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137 MISSOURI (The) "Bushwhacker" (Civil War). 
Autobiography of Sarnuel S. Hildebrand, the 
Renowned Missouri "Bushwhacker" and Un 
conquerable Rob Roy of America ; being his com 
plete confession recently made to the writers and 
carefully compiled. By J. W. Evans and Dr. 
Q. W. Keith, of St. Francois Co., Mo.; together 
with all the facts connected with his early his 
tory . 12mo, with eight woodcut illustrations, 

Jefferson City, Mo., 1870, pp. 312 4Htt>- 

* An extremely rare Missouri and Civil War 
item . First issue, a record of bloody deeds, 
dare-devil exploits and thrilling adventures min 
utely and accurately told ; includes the night 
historv of this audacious bandit. 


This is to certify that I, the undersigned, am personally ac 
quainted with Samuel S. Hildebrand (better known as "Sam 
I-Iildebrand, the Missouri Bushwhacker," etc.,) and have known 
him from boyhood ; that during the w T ar, and on several occa 
sions since its termination, he promised to give me a full and 
complete history of his whole war record ; that on the night of 
January 28th, 1870, he canie to my house at Big River Mills, in 
St. Francois county, Missouri, in company with Charles Burks, 
and gave his consent that I and Charles Burks, in conjunction, 
might have his confession whenever we were prepared to meet 
him at a certain place for that purpose ; that in the latter part 
of March, 1870, in the presence of Sam Hildebrand alone, I did 
write out his confession as he gave it to me, then and there, 
until the same was completed ; and that afterwards James W. 
Evans and myself, from the material I thus obtained, compiled 
and completed the said confession, which is now presented to the 
public as his Autobiography. 





On this, 14th day of June, 1870, before me, Henry Herter, a 
Notary Public within and for said county, personally Appeared 
W. II. Couzens, J. N. Burks and G. W. Murphy of the above 
county and State, and on being duly sworn they stated that they 
w.ere well acquainted with Charles Burks of the aforesaid county, 
and A. Wendell Keith, M. D., of St. Francois county, Missouri, 
.and to their certain knowledge the facts set forth in the foregoing 


certificate are true and correct, and that Samuel S. Hildebrand 
also acknowledged to them afterwards that he had made to them 
his complete confession. 



Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 14th day of June, 



Notary Public. 

The Statement made by A. Wendell Keith, M. D., is entitled 
to credit from the fact of his well-known veracity and standing 

in society. 


Senator, Rolla District. 

Representative, St. Francois comity. 

Farmington, Missouri. 

Sheriff St. Francois county. 

Clerk St. Francois county. 

Representative Ste. Genevieve county. 

Clerk Ste. Genevieve county. 

June 22, 1870. / 

I hereby certify that the persons whose official signatures 
appear above have been commissioned for the offices indicated ; 
and my personal acquaintance with Dr. Keith, Honorables Evans, 
Sebastian, Cayce, Bogy and Sheriff Murphy is such that I say 
without hesitation.their statements are entitled to full faith and 

credit. * 


Governor of Missouri. 



























Entered according to act of Congress in the year 1870, by 
JAMES W. EVANS and A. WENDELL KEITH, M. D., in the Clerk s 
Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern 
District of Missouri. 

E >t 




Introduction. Yankee fiction. Reasons for making a full con 
fession 25 


Early history of the Hildebrand family. Their settlement in St. 
Francois comity, Mo. Sam Hildebrand born. Troublesome 
neighbors. Union sentiments 29 


Determination to take no part in the war. Mr. Ringer killed by 
Rebels. The cunning device of Allen Roan. Vigilance 
Committee organized. The baseness of Mobocracy. At 
tacked by the mob. Escape to Flat "Woods 35 


Mcllvaine s Vigilance mob. Treachery of Castleman. Frank 
Hildebrand hung by the mob. Organization of the mob into 

a Militia company 42 


His house at Flat Woods attacked by eighty soldiers. Miracu 
lous escape. Capt. Bolin. Flight to Green county, Arkan 
sas 48 


interview with Gen. Jeff Thompson. Receives a Major s Com 
mission. Interview with Capt. Bolin. Joins the Bush 
whacking Department 54 


First trip to Missouri. Killed George Cornecious for reporting 
him. Killed Firman Mcllvaine, captain of the mob. At 
tempt to kill McGahan and House. Return to Arkansas. 58 


Vigilance mob drives his mother from home. Three companies 
of troops sent to Big river. Capt. Flanche murders Wash 
ington Hildebrand and Landusky. Capt. Esroger murders 
John Roan. Capt. Adolph burns the Hildebrand homestead 
and murders Henry Hildebrand ..... 66 


Trip with Burlap and Cato. Killed a spy near Bloomfield. 
Visits his mother on Dry Creek. Interview with his uncle. 
Sees the burning of the homestead at a distance 75 


Trip with two men. Killed Stokes for informing on him. Se 
creted in a cave on Big river. Vows of vengeance. Watched 
for McGahan. Tom Haile pleads for Franklin Murphy. 
Tongue-lashed and whipped out by. a woman 84 




Trip to Missouri with three men. Fight near Fredericktown. 
Killed four soldiers. Went to their camp and stole four horses. 
Flight toward the South. Robbed " Old Crusty " 01 


Trip with three men. Captured a spy and shot him. Shot Mr. 
Scaggs. Charged a Federal camp at night and killed nine 
men". Came near shooting James Craig. Robbed Bean s 
store and returned to Arkansas 96 


The Militia mob robs the Hildebrand estate. Trip to Missouri 
with ten men. Attacks a government train with an escort of 

twenty men. Killed two and put the others to flight 102 


Federal cruelty. A defense of Bushwhacking. Trip with Capt.. 
Bolin and nine men. Fight at West Prairie. Started with 
two men to St. Francois county. Killed a Federal soldier. 
Killed Addison Cunningham. Capt. Walker kills Capt. 

Barnes, and Hildebrand kills Capt. Walker 10G 


Started alone to Missouri. Rode off a bluff and killed his horse. 
Fell in with twenty-live Rebels under Lieut. Childs. 
Went with them. Attacked 150 Federals at Bellinger s Mill. 
Henry Resingor killed. William Cato. Went back to Fred 
ericktown. Killed one man. Robbed Abright s store... 114 


Started to Bloomfield with three men. Fi^ht at St. Francis river. 
Goes from there alone. Meets his wife and family, who had 
been ordered oft from Bloomfield. Capture and release of 
Mrs. Hildebrand. Fight in Stoddard county. Arrival in 

Arkansas 121 


Put in a crop. Took another trip to Missouri with six men. 
Surrounded in a tobacco barn. Killed two men in making his 
escape. Killed Wammack for informing on him. Captured 
some Federals and released them on certain conditions. 
Went to Big River Mills. Robbed Highley s and Bean s 

stores 128 


Selected seven men and went to Negro Wool Swamp. Attacked 
fifteen Federals A running fight. Killed three men. 
Killed Mr. Crane. Betrayed by a Dutchman, and surrounded 
in a house by Federals. Escaped, killed eight Federals, re 
captured #ie horses, and hung the Dutchman 136 


Went with eight men. Attacked a Federal camp near Bellinger s 
Mill. Got defeated. Men. returned to Arkansas. Went 
alone to St. Francois county. Watched for R. M. Cole. 

Killed Capt. Hicks 147 


Trip to Hamburg with fifteen men. Hung a Dutchman and shot 
another. Attacked some- Federals in Hamburg but got glo- 


riously whipped. Retreated to Coon Jsland. Killed Oiler at 
Flat Woods. Robbed Bean s store at irondale..: 153 


Started with six men on a trip to Springfield, Missouri. "De 
ceived by a Federal spV in the Irish Wilderness Captured 
through mistake by Rebels. Routed on Panther creek. 
Returned home on foot 159 


Started with four men. Surrounded in a thicket near Frederick- 
town. Escaped with the loss of three horses. Stole horses 
from the Federals at night. Killed two soldiers. Suffered 
from hunger. Killed Fowler. Took a horse from G. W. 
Murphy. Went to Mingo Swamp. Killed Coots for betray 
ing him. Killed a Federal and lost two men 1G8 


Went to Mingo Swamp with ten men. Went to Castor creek. 
Attacked two companies of Federals under Capt. Cawhorn 
and Capt. Rhoder. Bushwhacked them seven nights. 
Went with Capt. Reed s men. Attacked Capt. Leepcr s 
company. Killed fourteen, captured forty horses, forty-four 
guns, sixty pistols, and everything else they had 182 


Took a trip with fifteen men. Captured a squad of Federals. 
Reception of " Uncle Bill." Hung all the prisoners. Cap 
tured live more and hung one 187 


Put in a crop. Started to Missouri with nine men. Killed a sol 
dier near Dallas. Went to St. Francois county and watched 
for Walls and Baker. Watched near Big River Mills for Mc- 
Gahan. Narrow escape of William Sharp. Robbed Burges, 
Hughes and Kelley of their horses. Robbed Abright s store. 
Captured some Federals on White Water 195 


Started to St. Francois county, Missouri, with eight men. Hung 
Vogus and Zinimer. Hung George Hart. Robbed Lepp s 
store. Concealed in Pike Run hills. Started back. Hung 
Mr. Mett s negro, "Old Isaac." Hung another negro.. 
Took two deserters back and hung them 205 


Started with nine men to St. Francois county. Stopped in Pike 
Run hills. Robbed the store of Christopher Lepp. llimg 
Mr. Kinder s negro. Attacked by Federals. Killed two men 
and lost one. Shot two soldiers on a furlough. Enters a 
mysterious camp .",.,. 212 


3apt. John and a company of Federals destroy the Bushwhack 
ers Headquarters in Green county, Arkansas. He is bush 
whacked, routed and killed. Raid into Washington county 
with fourteen men. Attacked by twenty Federals. Killed 
the man who piloted Capt. John 219 



Took a raid into Missouri with four men. Killed a Federal. 
Killed two of Capt. Milks men. Started toDeSoto. Routed 
by the Federals. Adventure with a German. Killed three 
Federals on Black river 228 


Commanded the advance guard on Price s raid. The Federals 
burn Doniphan. Routed the Federals completely. Cap 
tured several at Patterson. Killed Abright at Farmington. 
Left Price s army. Killed four Federals. Major Mont 
gomery storms Big River Mills. Xarrow escape from cap 
ture 237 


Selected three men and went to Missouri to avenge the death of 
Rev. William Polk. Got ammunition in Fredericktown. 
Killed the German who informed on Polk. Return to Ar 
kansas 244 


Started with eight men on a trip to Arkansas river. Hung a 
"Scallawag" on White river. Went into Conway county. 
Treachery of a negro on Point Remove. "Foot-burning" 
atrocities. Started back and hung a renegade 250 


Gloomy prospects for the South. Takes a trip to Missouri with 
four men. Saved from capture by a woman. Visits his 
mother on Big river. Robs the store of J. V. Tyler at Big 

River Mills Escapes to Arkansas ". 257 


Started to Missouri with three men. Surrounded at night near 
Fredericktown. Narrow escape by a cunning device. Re 
tired to Simms Mountain. Swapped horses with Robert 
Hill, and captured some more. Killed Free Jim and kid 
napped a negro boy 264 


Trip to Missouri with four men. Attempt to rob Taylor s store. 
Fight with Lieut. Brown and his soldiers. Killed Miller 
and Johnson at Flat Woods. Return home from his last 
raid. The war is pronounced to be at an end. Reflections 
on the termination of the war. Mrs. Hildebrand s advice. 

The parole at Jacksonport 275 


Imprisoned in Jacksonport jail. Mrs. Hildebrand returns to 
Missouri. Escape from prison. Final settlement in Ste. 
Genevieve county. St. Louis detectives make their first trip. 
The Governor s reward. Wounded by Peterson. Re 
moved to his uncle s. Fight at John Williams . Kills James 

McLaine. Hides in a cave 286 


Military operations for his capture. Col. Bowen captures the 
Cave. Progress of the campaign. Advent of Governor 
McClurg. The Militia called put. Don Quixote affair at the 
Brick Church. The campaign ended. Mrs. Hildebrand 
escapes to Illinois. "Sam" leaves Missouri. His final pro 
clamation 300 


The public having been grossly imposed upon by 
several spurious productions purporting to be the 
" Life of Sam Hildebrand," we have no apology to 
offer for presenting the reader with his authentic 

His confession was faithfully written down from 
his own lips, as the foregoing certificates abundantly 

From this copious manuscript we have prepared 
his autobiography for the press, with a scrupulous 
care to give it literally, so far as the arbitrary rules 
of language would permit. Sam Hildebrand and 
the authors of this work were raised up from boy 
hood together, in the same neighborhood, and we 
are confident that no material facts have been sup 
pressed by Hildebrand in his confession. 

The whole narrative is given to the reader with 
out any effort upon our part either to justify or con 
demn his acts. Our design was to give the genuine 
autobiography of Sam Hildebrand; this we have 

The book, as a record of bloody deeds, dare-devil 
exploits and thrilling adventures, will have no rival 
jn the catalogue of wonders ; for it at once unfolds, 



with minute accuracy, the exploits of Hildebrand, 
of which one-half had never yet been told. With 
out this record the world would forever remain in 
ignorance of the night history of his astounding 

We here tender our thanks to" those of our friends 
who have kindly assisted us in this work, prominent 
among whom is Miss Hilda F. Sharp, of Jefferson 
City, Mo., who furnished us with those beautiful pen 
cil sketches from which our engravings were made. 

BIG EIVER MILLS, Mo., June, 1870. 



Before proceeding with the Autobiography of Sam 
uel S. Hildebrand, we would call the attention of the 
reader to the fact, that since notoriety has been thrust 
upon the subject of these memoirs, public attention has 
been pointed to the fact, that in German history, the 
Hildebrands occupy a very prominent position. 

The authors of this work, by a diligent research into 
ancient German literature, have been able to trace the 
origin and history of the Hildebrand family, with tol 
erable accuracy, to the beginning of the ninth century. 
The name Hildebrand or Hildebrandt is as old as the 
German language. Hilde, in ancient German, signified 
a " Hero," and brand, a "blaze or flame." It is thought 
by some writers that the name doubtless signified a 

"flaming hero/ 



Whether this is the case or not, it matters but little, 
as the fact remains clearly defined that the first man of 
that name known to history was a hero in every sense 
of the word. The " Ileldenbuch " or Book of Heroes, 
in its original form, dates back to the eighth century. 
It is a beautiful collection of poems relative to Dietrich 
or Theodoric. It was written down from memory by 
the Hessian monks on the outer pages of an old Latin 
manuscript, and was first published by Eccard in prose, 
but it was afterwards discovered that the songs were 
originally in rhyme. 

The poem treats of the expulsion of Dietrich of Vaum 
out of his dominions by Ermenrick, his escape to Attila 
and his return after an adventurous exile of thirty 
years. Hildebrand (the old Dietrich) encounters his 
son, whom he left at home in his flight, in a terrible 
encounter without knowing who he was. We will pre 
sent the reader with Das Ilildebrandslied (The song of 
Hildebrand), not on account of any literary merit it 
may possess, but because of its great antiquity and its 
popularity among the German people at one time, and 
by whom it was dramatized, 


of ildebrand. 

" I must be up and riding," spoke Master Hildebrand, 
, Tis long since I have greeted the distant Berner land ; 
For many a pleasant summer in foreign lands we ve been, 
But thirty years have vanished since I my wife have seen." 

"Wilt thoti be up and riding?" outspoke puke Amelung; 
" Beware ! since one should meet thee a rider brave and young. 
Right by the Berner market the brave Sir Alebrand ; 
If twelve men s strength were in thee, he d throw thee to the 

"And doth he scorn the country in such a haughty mood ? 
I ll cleave in twain his buckler twill do him little good ; 
I ll cleave in twain his armor with a resistless blow, 
Which for a long year after shall cause his mother woe." 

Outspoke of Bern, Sir Dietrich, " now let that counsel be, 
And slay him not, old hero, but take advice from me : 
Speak gently to the Hitter, a kind word soonest mends ; 
And let your path be peaceful, so shall ye both be friends ! " 

And as he reached the garden, right by the mart of Berne ; 
There came against him riding, a warrior fierce and stern. 
A brave young knight in armor, against Sir Hildebrand ; 
" What seekest thou, old Ritter, in this, thy father s land?" 

"Thou bearcst splendid armor, like one of royal kind ; 

So bright thy glit ering corselet, mine eyes are stricken blind ; 

Thou, who at home should st rest thee, and shun a warrior s 


And slumber by the fireside," the old man laughed and spoke. 



" Should I at firesides rest me, and nurse me well at home ^ 
Full many a fight a waits me, to many a field I ll come. 
In many u rattling foray, shall I be known and feared; 
Believe my word, thou youngster, twas thus I blanched my 

"That beard will I tear from thee, though great may be thy pain. 
Until the blood-drops trickling, have sprinkled all the plain ; 
Thy fair green shield and armor, must thou resign to me, 
Then seek the town, contented my prisoner to be. 

"My armor and my fair green shield have warded many a blow; 
I tmst that God in Heaven still will guard me from my foe." 
No more they spoke together, but grasped their weapons keen, 
And what the two most longed for, soon came to pass, I ween ! 

With glittering sword, the younger struck such a sudden blow, 
That with its torce the warrior, Sir Hildebvaml, bent low ; 
The youth in haste recoiling, sprang twelve good steps behind, 
44 Such leaps," exclaimed the gray-beard, "were learned of 

4 Had I learned ought of woman, it were to me a shame, 
Within my father s castle are many knights of fame ; 
Full many knights and riders about my father throng, 
And what as yet, I know not, I trust to learn ere long. 

Sir Hildebrand was cunning, the old gray bearded man, 
For when the youth uplifted, beneath Ids sword he ran ; 
Around the Hitter s girdle his arms he tightly bound, 
And on the ground he cast him there lies he on the ground ! 

"Who rubs against the kittles, may spotless keep who can 
How fares it now, young hero, against the old gray man ? 
Now quickly speak and shrive thec, for I thy priest will be ; 
Say, art thou a young Wolfing? perhaps I ll let thee free." 

4 Like wolves are all the Wolfing, they ran wild in the wood, 
But I m a Grecian warrior, a rider brave and good ; 


Frau Ute is my mother, she dwelleth near this spot, 
And Hildebrand. my father, albeit he knows us not!" 

"Is Ute then thy mother, that monarch s daughter free? 
Seekest thou thy father, Hildebrand? then know that /am he !" 
Uplifted he his golden helm, and kissed him on the mouth ; 
Now God be praised that both are safe ! the old man and the 

"Oh, father dear, those bloody wounds!" twas thus the 

young knight said : 
" Now would I three times rather bear those blows upon iny 

"Be still, bte still, my own dear son! the wounds will soon be 

past ; 
And God in Heaven above be praised, that we have met at last !" 

This lasted from the noonday well to the vesper tide, 
Then back into the city Sir Alebraiicl did ride. 
What bears he on his helmet? a little cross of gold ; 
Who is he that rides beside him ? his own dear father old. 

And with him to his castle, old Hildebrand he bore, (sore 
And with his own hands served him the mother grieved full 
"Ah, son, my ever dearest son, the cause I fain would know, 
Why a strange prisoner, like this, should e er be honored so?" 

"Xow, silence, clearest mother, and list to what I say ! 
He almost slew me on the heath in open light to-day ; 
He ne er shall wear, good mother, a prisoner s attire , 
Tis Hildebrand, the valient, thy husband and my sire ! 

Oh, mother, dearest mother, do him all honor now ; " 
Then flew she to her husband, and served him well, I trow ; 
What holds the brave old father ? a glittering ring of gold ; 
He drops it in the wine cup it is her husband old ! 


"We congratulate our readers on having survived the 
reading of the above poem, written a thousand years 
ago, about old Dietrich, the "father Abraham" of all 
the Hildebrands ; but he must not forget that he is 
subject to a relapse, for here are two verses not taken 
from the "Book of Heroes/ but from an old popular 
song in use to this day among the peasantry in South 
Germany : 

|pildebrand and his son Jjtudebrand, 

Hildebrand and his son Hudebrand Alebrand, 

Kode off together with sword in hand sword in hand 

To make fierce war on Venice ; 
Hildebrand and his son Hudebrand Alebrand, 
Never could find the Venetian land netian land . 

With flaming swords to menace ! 

Hildebrand and his son Hudebrand Alebrand, 
Got drunk as pigs with a jolly band jolly band, 

All the while swearing and bawling ; 
Hildebrand and his son Hudebrand Alebrand, 
Drank till they could neither walk nor stand walk nor stand, 

Home on all fours they went a crawling. 

The reader will perceive that the peasantry are dis 
posed to "poke fun" at the great ancestor of the 
Hildebrand family ; this, however, we will attribute to 
envy, and make no effort to prove that "Hildebrand 
and his son Hudebrand" were Good Templars, lest 
we prove too much, and cause the reader to doubt their 
Dutch origin altogether. 


Following the geneology down, we meet with several 
of the Hildebrands celebrated in the ecclesiastical, 
literary and scientific world. Of the parentage of 
Gregory YII. but little is known more than that he 
was a Hildebrand, born near Rome, but of German 
parents. On becoming a Eoman Pontiff in 1077, he 
assumed the name of Gregory. He occupied the chair 
of St. Peter for eight years, during which time he 
assumed an authority over the crowned heads of Eu 
rope, never before attempted. He was a bold man, 
but was driven from his chair in 1085. 

George Frederick Hildebrand was a famous physic 
ian, who was born June 5, 1764, at Hanover. He was 
one of the most learned men of his age ; was appointed 
professor of Anatomy at Brunswick, but he soon took 
the chair of Chemistry, at Erlangen, in Bavaria. He 
died March 23, 1816, leaving some of the most elabor 
ate and valuable works ever written. 

Ferdinand Theodore Hildebrand was born Juno 2, 
1804, and under the tuition of Professor Schadaw, at 
Berlin, he became very renowned as a painter. He 
followed his tutor to Dusseklorf in 1826, and was one 
of the most celebrated artists of the Academy of Paint 
ing at that place. In 1830 Hildebrand visited Italy to 
view the productions of some of the old masters, and 
afterwards traveled through the Netherlands. Some 
of his best pictures were drawn to represent scenes in 
the works of Shakspeare, of which "King Lear mourn 
ing over the death of Cordelia," was perhaps the most 
important. But among the critics, " The sons of Ed 
ward" was considered hi^ greatest production. 


It is not our purpose to name all the illustrious Ilil- 
debrands who have figured in German history or litera 
ture ; for it must be borne in mind that from the ninth 
century down to the sixteenth, the name Hildebrand 
was almost invariably applied as a given name ; it was 
not until that century that it appears as a sur-name. It 
is a fact, however, well known to historians, that the 
same given name is frequently retained in a family, and 
handed down from one generation to another perhaps 
for one thousand years. 

In the southern part of Germany the name Hilde 
brand was borne by a certain class of vassals, but in the 
Northern States of that country, there were families of 
noble birth by the same name. The record of those 
nobles run back with a great deal of certainty to a very 
remote period of German history beyond which, the 
dim out-lines of tradition alone can be our guide. 
This tradition, whether entitled to credit or not, traces 
the geneology of the Hildebrands in the line of nobles 
up to Sir Hildebrand, the exiled hero mentioned in 
the Book of Heroes. 

According to the record of the Hildebrand family, 
as given by Henry Hildebrand of Jefferson county, 
Missouri, to the authors of this work ; the seventh gen 
eration back reaches to Peter Hildebrand of Hanover. 
He was born in 1655, and was the youngest son of a 
nobleman. His father having died while Peter was 
yet a boy, he was educated at a military school, and 
after arriving to manhood he served several years in 
the army. Returning at length, he was vexed at the 
cold reception he received from his elder brother, who 


now inherited the estate with all the titles of nobility 
belonging to the family. He resolved to emigrate to 
the wild solitudes of America, where individual worth 
and courage was the stepping stone to honor and dis 

His family consisted of a wife and three children ; 
his oldest son, Jacob, was born in 1680 ; when he was 
ten years of age the whole family emigrated to New 
Amsterdam, remained three years and then settled in 
the northern part of Pennsylvania, where he died a 
few years afterwards. 

Jacob Hildebrand s second son, Jacob, was born in 
1705. He was fond of adventure and joined in several 
exploring expeditions in one of which he was captured 
by a band of Miami Indians, and only escaped by plung 
ing into the Ohio river and concealing himself under a 
drift of floating logs. His feelings of hostility against 
the Indians prompted him to join the expedition against 
them under Lieutenant Ward, who erected a fort at 
what is now called Pittsburg, in 1754, here he was killed 
in a vain attempt to hold the garrison against the 
French and Indians under Contrecoeur. 

His third son, John Hildebrand, was born in 1733, 
and at the death of his father was twenty-one years of 
age. Like most of the frontiermen of this early period, 
he seemed to have an uncontrolable love of adventure. 
His most ardent desire was to explore the great valley 
of the Mississippi. At the period of which we are now 
speaking (1754), he joined James M. Bride and others 
and passed down the Ohio river in a canoe ; to his re- 
grot, however, the company only reached the mouth of 


the Kentucky river, cut their Initials in the barks of 
trees, and then returned. In 1770 he removed to Mis 
souri. His family consisted of his wife and two boys 
Peter was born in 1758, and Jonathan in 1762. He 
built a flat-boat on the banks of the Ohio, and taking a 
bountiful supply of provisions, he embarked with his 
family. To avoid the Indians he kept as far from each 
shore as possible, and never landed but once to pass 
around the shoals. On reaching the Mississippi he 
spent more than a week in ascending that river to 
gain a proper point for crossing. He landed on the 
western side at Ste. Genevieve. 

Viewing the country there as being rather thickly 
settled, he moved back into the wilderness about forty 
miles and settled on Big River at the mouth of Saline 
creek. He was the first settler in that country which 
was afterwards organized as Jefferson county. He 
opened a fine farm on Saline creek, built houses, and 
considered himself permanently located in that wild 
country. The Indians were unfriendly, and their hos 
tility toward white settlers seemed to increase until 
1780, when Peter Chouteau, by order of the Lieutenant 
Governor of Louisiana, went to see Hildebrand and 
warned him to leave on account of Indian depredations. 
He then removed to Ste. Genevieve. 

In 1783, Peter Hildebrand left Ste. Genevieve and 
settled on "Big River in the same neighborhood where 
his father had resided. He had a wife and four child 
ren, whose names were, Isaac, Abraham, David, and 
Betsy. He was a good marksman and very fond of 
hunting. After he had resided there about one year, 


he was shot find killed by the Indians on the bank of 
Big River one morning while on his return from hunt 
ing wild game ; after which the family removed nearer 
to a settlement. 

In 1802, David Hildebrand settled on Big River, and 
about the same time Jonathan Ilildebrand settled him 
self permanently on the same river. He lived until 
the commencement of the late war, and then died at 
the age of one hundred years. He had three sons, 
whose names are, George, Henry, and Samuel. 

In 1832, George Hildebrand and his family moved 
higher up on Big River and settled in St. Francois 
county his house was the Hildebrand homestead re 
ferred to in these pages and he was the father of 
Samuel S. Hildebrand, whose Autobiography we now 
submit to our readers. 





Introduction. Yankee Fiction. Reasons for making a full 

Since the close of the late rebellion, knowing that 
I had taken a very active part during its progress 
several of my friends have solicited ine to have my 
history written out in full. This anxiety to obtain 
the history of an individual so humble as myself, 
may be attributed to the fact, that never perhaps 
since the world began, have such efforts been put forth 
by a government for the suppression of one man alone, 
as have been used for my capture, both during the war 
and since its termination. The extensive military 
operations carried on by the Federal government in 
South-east Missouri, were in a great measure designed 
for my special destruction. 


Since the close of the rebellion, while others -are 
permitted to remain at home in peace, the war, with 
out any abatement whatever, has continued against me 
with a vindictiveness and alavish expenditure of money 
that has no parallel on this continent} but through it 
all, single-handed, have I come out unscathed and un- 

My enemies have thrust notoriety upon me, and have 
excited the public mind at a distance with a desire to 
know who I am and what I have done. Taking ad 
vantage of this popular inquiry, some enterprising 
individual in an eastern state has issued two or three 
novels purporting to be my history, but they arc not 
even founded on fact, and miss the mark about as far 
as if they were designed for the Life of Queen Yic- 
toria. I seriously object to the use of my name in any 
such a manner. Any writer, of course, who is afflicted 
with an irresistible desire to write fiction, has a perfect 
right to do so, but he should select a fictitious name for 
the hero of his novels, that his works may stand or fall, 
according to their own intrinsic merit, rather than the 
name of an individual whose notoriety alone would 
insure the popularity of his books. But an attempt to 
palm a novel on the inquiring public as a history of 
my life, containing as it does a catalogue of criminal 
acts unknown to me in all my career, is not only a 
slander upon myself, but a glaring fraud upon the 

Much of our misfortune as a nation may be attributed 
to the pernicious influence of the intolerant, intermed 
dling, irrepressible writers of falsehood. In a com- 


munity where the spirit of fiction pervades every de 
partment of literature and all the social relations of 
life, writers become so habituated to false coloring and 
deception, that plain unadorned truth has seldom been 
known to eminate from their perverted brains ; it would 
be just as impossible for them to write down a naked 
fact as it would for the Prince of Darkness to write a 
volume of psalms. 

The friend who has finally succeeded in tracing me 
to my quiet retreat in the wild solitudes of the down 
trodden South, is requesting me to make public the 
whole history of my life, without any attempt at pallia 
tion, concealment or apology. This I shall now pro 
ceed to do, in utter disregard to a perverted public 
opinion, and without the least desire or expectation of 
receiving justice from the minds of those who never 
knew justice, or sympathy from those who are desti 
tute of that ingredient. 

The necessity that was forced upon me to act the 
part I did during the reign of terror in Missouri, is all 
that I regret. It has deprived me of a happy home 
and the joys of domestic peace and quietude; it has 
driven me from the associations of childhood, and all 
the scenes of early life that so sweetly cling to the 
memory of man ; it has caused my kind and indulgent 
mother to go down into her grave sorrowing; it has 
robbed me of three affectionate brothers who were 
brutally murdered and left weltering in their own in 
nocent blood ; it has reduced me and my family to 
absolute want and suffering, and has left us without a 
home, and I might almost say, without a country. 


A necessity as implacable as the decrees of Fate, 
was forced upon me by the "Union party to espouse the 
opposite side ; and all the horrors of a merciless war 
were waged unceasingly against mo for many months 
before I attempted to raise my hand in self defense. 
But fight I must, and fight 1 did ! War was the object, 
and war it was. I never engage in but one business at 
a time my business during the war was killing ene 
mies. It is a very difficult matter to carry on a war 
for four years without some one getting hurt. If I did 
kill over a hundred men daring the war, it was only 
because I was in earnest and supposed that everybody 
else was. My name is cast out as evil because I adopted 
the military tactics not in use among large armies. 
They were encumbered with artillery and fought 
where they had ample room to use it, I had no artil 
lery and generally fought in the woods ; my plan was 
the most successful, for in the regular army the rebels 
did not kill more than one man each during the war. 



Early "History of the Hildebrand family. Settled in St. Fran 
cois county, Missouri. Sam Hildebrand born. Trouble 
some Neighbors. Union Sentiments. 

In regard to the early history of the Hildebrand 
family, I can only state what tradition has handed 
down from one generation to another. As I have no 
education, and can neither read in English nor Dutch, 
I am not able to give any of the outlines of history 
bearing upon the origin or acts of the Hildebrands in 
remote ages. This task I leave for others, with this 
remark, that tradition connects our family with the 
Hildebrands who figured in the German history up to 
the very origin of the Dutch language. The branch 
of the family to which I belong were driven from 
Bavaria into Netherlands two hundred years ago, 
where they remained about forty years, and then emi 
grated to Pennsylvania at the first settlement of that 
portion of America. 

They were a hardy race of people and always shunned 
a city life, or being cooped up in thickly settled dis 
tricts ; they kept on the outskirts of aggressive civi 
lization as it pressed the redman still back into the 
wild solitudes of the West, thus occupying the middle 
ground or twilight of refinement. Hence they con 
tinually breathed the pure, fresh air of our country s 
morning, trod through the dewy vales of pioneer life, 


and drank at Freedom s shady fountains among the 
unclaimed hills. 

They were literally a race of backwoodsmen inured 
to hardship, and delighted in nothing so much as wild 
adventure and personal danger. They explored the 
hills rather than the dull pages of history, pursued 
the wild deer instead of tame literature, and enjoyed 
their own thoughts rather than the dreamy notions 
eminating from the feverish brain of philosophy. 

In 1832 my father and mother, George and Eebecca 
Hildebrand, settled in St. Francois county, Missouri, 
on a stream called Big River, one of the tributaries of 
the Meramcc which empties into the Mississippi about 
twenty miles below St. Louis. 

The bottom lands on Big River are remarkably fer 
tile, and my father was so fortunate as to secure one of 
the best bodies of land in that county. Timber grew 
in abundance, both on the hills and in the valleys, con 
sequently it took a great deal of hard labor to open a 
farm ; but after a few years of close attention, father, 
by the assistance of his boys who were growing up, 
succeeded in opening a very large one. He built a 
large stone dwelling house two stories high, and fin 
ished it off in beautiful style, besides other buildings 
barns, cribs and stables necessary on every well regu 
lated farm. 

Father and mother raised a family of ten children, 
consisting of seven boys and three girls. I was the 
fifth one in the family, and was born at the old home 
stead on Big River, St. Francois county, Missouri, on 
the 6th day of January, 1836. 


The facilities for acquiring an education in that 
neighborhood were very slim indeed, besides I never 
felt inclined to go to school even when I had a chance j 
I was too fond of hunting and fishing, or playing 
around the majestic bluffs that wall in one side or the 
other of Big Kiver, the whole length of that crooked 
and very romantic stream. One day s schooling was 
all that I ever got in my life ; that day w T as sufficient 
for me, it gave me a distaste to the very sight of a 
school house, I only learned the names of two letters, 
one shaped like the gable end of a house roof, and the 
other shaped like an ox yoke standing on end. At 
recess in the afternoon the boys got to picking at me 
while the teacher was gone to dinner, and I had them 
every one to whip. "When the old tyrant came back 
from dinner and commenced talking saucy, I gave him 
a good cursing and broke for home. My father very 
generously gave me my choice, either to go to school 
or to work on the farm. I gladly accepted the latter, 
redoubled my energy and always afterwards took par 
ticular pain3 to please my father in all things, because 
he was so kind as not to compel me to attend school. 
A threat to send me to school was all the whipping 
that I ever required to insure obedience; I was more 
afraid of that than I was of old "Kaw-head-and-bloody- 
bones," or even the old scratch himself. 

In 1850, my father died, but I still remained at the 
homestead, working for the support of my mother 
and the rest of the family, until I had reached the age 
of nineteen years, then, on the 30th day of October, 
1864, I married Miss Margaret Hampton, the daughter 


of a highly esteemed citizen of St. Francois county* 
I built a neat log house, opened a farm for myself, 
within half a mile of the old homestead, and \ve went 
to housekeeping for ourselves. 

Prom the time that my father first settled on Big 
Biver, we had an abundance of stock, and especially 
hogs. The range was always good, and as the uplands 
and hills constituted an endless forest of oaks, the in 
exhaustible supply of acorns afforded all the food 
that our hogs required ; they roamed in the woods, 
and of course, many of them became as wild as deer ; 
the wild ones remained among the hills and increased 
until they became very numerous. "Whenever they 
were fat enough for pork, we were in the habit of 
going into the woods with our guns and our dogs and 
killing as many of them as we could. 

A few years after my father had settled there, a 
colony of Pennsylvania Dutch had established them 
selves in our neighborhood; they were very numerous 
and constituted about two-thirds of the population of 
our township. They soon set up " wild hog claims," 
declaring that some of their hogs had also run wild j 
this led to disputes and quarrels, and to some "fist and 
skull fighting," in which my brothers and myself soon 
won the reputation of " bullies." Finding that they 
had no show at this game, they next resorted to the 
law, and we had many little law suits before our justice 
of the peace. The Dutch out swore us, and we soon 
found the Hildebrand family branded by them with 
the very unjust and unpleasant epithet of "hog thieves;" 
but we went in on the muscle and still held the woods. 


As our part of the country became more thickly 
settled and new neighbors came in, they in turn were 
prejudiced against us ; and the rising generation seemed 
to cling to the same idea, that the Hildebrands seemed 
to love pork a little too well and needed watching. 
Unfortunately for me, my old neighbors were union 
men; all my sympathies too, were decidedly for the 
union. I heard with alarm the mutterings of war in 
the distance, like the deep tones of thunder beyond the 
frowning hills. I had never made politics my study j 
I had no education whatever, and had to rely exclu 
sively on what others told me. Of course I was easily 
imposed upon by political tricksters, yet from my 
heart I deplored the necessity of a resort to arms, if 
such a necessity did exist, a.nd whether it did or not 
was more than I could divine. 

While my union neighbors and enemies were making 
the necessary preparations for leaving their families in 
comfortable circumstances before taking up arms in 
defense of their country, there were a few shrewed 
southern men around to magnify and distort the griev 
ances of the southern people. In many cases the men 
whom they obtained had nothing in the world at stake, 
no useful object in view, no visible means of acquiring 
an honest livelihood, and were even without a horse 
to ride. This, however, only afforded them a pretext 
for practicing what they called " pressing horses," 
which was done on a large scale. Neither political 
principles, patriotic motives, nor love of country 
prompted this abominable system of horse stealing. It 
was not confined to either party, and it was a remarka- 


ble co-incident how invariably the political sentiments 
of a horse-pressing renegade would differ from the 
neighbor who happened to have the fastest horses. 



Determination to take no part in the War. Mr. Ringer killed 
by Rebels. The cunning device of Allen Roan. Vigilance 
Committee organized. The baseness of Mobocracy. At 
tacked by the Mob. Escape to Flat Woods. 

In the spring of 1861, the war of the Great [Rebellion 
was inaugurated, and during the following summer was 
carried on in great fury in many places, but I shall 
only speak of those occurrences which had a particular 
bearing upon myself. 

I called on some good citizens who were not republi 
cans, and whom I knew to be well posted in the cur 
rent events of the day, to ask them what course it was 
best for me to pursue during the unnatural struggle. 
They advised me to stay at home and attend to my 
own business. This 1 determined to do, so I paid no 
further attention to what was going on, put in my 
crop of corn at the usual season and cultivated it dur 
ing the summer. 

On the 9th day of August the popular excitement in 
St. Francois county was greatly increased by the kill 
ing of Mr. Ringer, a union man, who was shot at his 
own house for no other cause than his political princi 
ples. He was killed, as I afterwards learned, by Allen 
Eoan and Tom Cooper. It should be borne in mind 
that Roan was a relative of mine with whom I was on 


friendly terms. I was not implicated in the death of 
Ringer in any manner, shape, or form, but suspicion 
rested upon me j the "Hildebrand gang" were branded 
with the murder. 

I could not check Roan in the rash course he was 
pursuing; but in all sincerity, I determined to follow 
the advice given me by a certain union friend, who 
told me to take no part in the cause that would in the 
end bring disaster upon myself. It was good advice ; 
why then did I not follow it? In the presence of that 
Being who shall judge the quick and the dead, I shall 
truthfully and in a few words explain the whole matter. 
I had no sooner made up my mind fully what course to 
pursue, than I was caught in a cunningly devised trap 
that settled my destiny forever. 

One evening Allen Roan came to my field where I 
was plowing and proposed swapping horses with me ; 
the horse which he said he had bought was a better one 
than my own, so I consented to make the exchange ; 
finding afterwards that the horse would not work in 
harness, I swapped him off the next day to Mr. Rogers. 

Prior to this time my neighbors had organized them 
selves into what they called a Vigilance Committee, 
and were moving in squads night and day to put down 
horse stealing. Only a few of the committee were 
dangerous men, but Firman Mcllvaine, who was put 
at the head of the gang was influenced by the worst 
element in the community j it became a political ma 
chine for oppression and bloodshed under the guidance 
of James Craig, John House, Joe McGahan, John 


woody, "William Pattern, and others, who were swearing 
death to every man implicated i n any way with the 
southern recruits who were pressing horses. 

The horse I had traded for from Allen Roan and 
which Rogers obtained from me, proved to be the 
property of Dun woody. I was apprised of the fact 
by a friend at night, and told also that they had threat 
ened me and my brother Frank with death if they 
could find us, and notwithstanding our entire innocence 
in the matter, we were compelled to hide out. We 
knew that when the law is wrested from the civil au 
thorities by such men as they were, that anything like 
a trial would not be permitted. We secreted ourselves 
in the woods, hoping that matters would take a different 
turn in a short time ; each night I was posted in regard 
to their threats. I would willingly have surrendered 
myself to the civil authorities with a guarantee of a 
fair trial j but to fall into the hands of an unscrupulous 
mob who were acting in violation of law, particularly 
when law arid order was broken up by the heavy tramp 
of war, was what we were compelled by all means to 
avoid. We had no alternative but to elude their search. 

It is a fact well known, that in the upheaval of popu 
lar passion for the overliirow of law and order under 
any pretext whatever, a nucleus is formed, around 
which the most vile, the most turbulent, and the most 
cowardly instinctively fly. Cowardly villains invari 
ably join in with every mob that conies within their 
reach; personal enmity and spite is frequently their 
controling motive ; the possible opportunity of re 
dressing some supposed grievance without incurring 


danger to themselves is their incentive for swelling the 
mob. A person guilty of any particular crime, to avoid 
suspicion, is always the most clamorous for blood when 
some one else stands accused of the same offense. In 
the Vigilance Committee were found the same materials 
existing in all mobs. No brave man was ever a tyrant, 
but no coward ever failed to be one when he had the 
power. They still kept up the search for me and my 
brother with an energy worthy of a better cause. 

It was now October, the nights were cold and we 
suffered much for the want of blankets and even for 
food. ~VVe were both unaccustomed to sleeping out at 
night and were chilled by the cold wind that whistled 
through the trees. After we had thus continued in the 
woods about three weeks, I concluded to venture in 
one night to see my family and to get something to eat, 
and some bed clothes to keep me more comfortable at 

I had heard no unusual noise in the woods that day, 
had seen no one pass, nor heard the tramp of horses 
feet in any direction. 

It was about eleven o clock at night when I got within 
sight of the house, no light was burning within ; I 
heard no noise of any kind, and believing that all was 
right I crept up to the house and whispered "Margaret" 
through a crack. My wife heard me, and recognizing 
my voice she noiselessly opened the door and le^t me in. 
We talked only in whispers, and in a few minutes she 
placed my supper upon the table. Just as I was go 
ing to eat I heard the top rail fall off my yard fence. 
The noise did not suit me, so I took my gun in one 



hand, a loaf of corn bread in the other, and instantly 
stepped out into the yard by a back door. 

JVIcIlvaine and his vigilantees were also in the yard, 
and were approaching the house from all sides in a 
regular line. In an instant I detected a gap in their 
ranks and dashed through it. As they commenced 
firing I dodged behind a molasses mill that fortunately 
stood in the yard, it caught nine of their bullets and 
without doubt saved my life. After the first volley I 
struck for the woods, a distance of about two hundred 
yards. Though their firing did not cease, I stopped 
midway to shoot at their flame of fire, but a thought 
struck me that it would too well indicate my where 
abouts in the open field, so I hastened on until I had 
gained the edge of the woods, and there I sat down to 
listen at what was going on at the house. I heard 
Firman Mcllvaine s name called several times, and very 
distinctly heard his replies and knew his voice. This 
satisfied me beyond all doubt that the marauders were 
none other than the self-styled Vigilance Committee. 

I was fortunate in my escape, and had a deep sense 
of gratitude to heaven for my miraculous preservation. 
Though I had not made my condition much better by 
my visit, yet I gnawed away, at intervals, upon my 
loaf of corn bread, and tried to reconcile myself as 
much as possible to the terrible state of aifairs then 
existing. I saw very plainly that my enemies would 
not permit me to remain in that vicinity ; but the idea 
of being compelled to leave my dear home where I wars 
born and raised, and to strike out into the unknown 
world with my family without a dollar in my pocket, 


without anything except one horse and the clothing 

we had upon our backs, was anything in the world 
but cheering However, I had no alternative ; to take 
care of my dependent and suffering family, was the 
motive uppermost in my mind at all times. 

After the mob had apparently left, my wife came 
out to me in the woods. Our plans were soon formed; 
after dressing the children, five in number, as quietly 
and speedily as possible, she brought them to me at a 
designated point among the hills in the dark forest. She 
returned to the house alone, and with as little noise as 
possible saddled up my horse, and after packing him 
with what bed clothing and provisions she conveniently 
could, she circled around among the hills and re 
joined mo at a place I had named in the deep forest 
about five miles from our once happy home. Daylight 
soon made its appearance and enabled me to pick out 
a place of tolerable security. 

We remained concealed until the re-appearance of 
night and then proceeded on our cheerless wandering. In 
silence we trudged along in the woods as best we could, 
avoiding the mud and occasional pools of water. I 
carried my gun on my shoulder and one of the children 
on my hip ; my wife, packing the baby in her arms, 
walked quietly by my side. I never was before so 
deeply impressed with the faith, energy and confiding 
spirit of woman. As the moon would occasionally 
peep forth from the drifting clouds and strike upon the 
pale features of my uncomplaining wife, I thought I 
could detect a look of cheerfulness in her countenance, 
and more than once I thought I heard a suppressed 


titter when either of us got tangled up in the brush. 
When daylight appeared we were on Wolf creek, a few 
miles south of Farmington j here we stopped in the 
woods to cook our breakfast and to rest a while. Dur 
ing the day we proceeded on to what is called Flat 
Woods, eight miles from Farmington, in the southern 
part of St. Francois county, and about ten miles north 
from Fredericktown. From Mr. Griffin I obtained the 
use of a log cabin in a retired locality, and in a few 
minutes we were duly installed in our new house. 



Mcllvaine s Vigilance Mob. Treachery of Castleman. Frank 
Hildebrand hung by the Mob. Organization of the Mob 
into a Militia Company. 

The Vigilance Committee, with Firman Mcllvaine at 
its head, was formed ostensibly for the mutual protec 
tion against plunderers \ yet some bad men were in it. 
By their influence it became a machine of oppression, a 
shield for cowards, and the head-quarters for tyranny. 

After I left Big River my brother Frank continued 
to conceal himself in the woods until about the middle 
of November j the weather now grew so cold that he 
could stand it no longer ; he took the advice of Frank 
lin Murphy and made his way to Potosi, and in order 
to silence all suspicion in regard to his loyalty, he went 
to Captain Castleman and offered to join the Home 
Guards. Castleman being intimate with Firman Mcll 
vaine, detained Frank until he had time to send Mcll 
vaine word, and then basely betraj^ed him into the 
merciless hands of the vigilant mob. 

In order to obtain a shadow of legal ty for his pro 
ceedings, Mcllvaine took brother Frank before Frank 
lin Murphy, who at that time was justice of the peace 
on Big River. Frank was anxious that the justice 
might try the case ; but when Murphy told them that 
all the authority he had would only enable him to com 
mit him to jail for trial in the proper court, even if the 


charges were sustained/ they were dissatisfied at this, 
and in order to take the matter out of the hands of the 
justice and make it heyond his jurisdiction, they de 
clared that lie had stolen a horse in Ste. G-enevieve 

The mob then took Frank to Punjaub, in that county, 
before Justice K. M. Cole, who told them that he was 
a sworn officer of the law, and that if they should pro 
duce sufficient evidence against their prisoner, he could 
only commit him to jail. This of course did not satisfy 
the mob ; to take the case out of his hands, they stated 
that the offense he had committed was that of stealing 
a mule in Jefferson county. They stated also that 
Frank and Sam Anderson had gone in the night to the 
house of a Mr. Carney to steal his mare ; that Mrs. Car 
ney on hearing them at the gate, went out and told 
them that Mr. Carney was absent and had rode the 
mare; that they then compelled Mrs. Carney to go 
with them a quarter of a mile in her night clothes to 
show them where Mr. Becket lived ; and finally that 
they went there and stole his horse. Failing however 
to obtain the co-operation of the Justice in carrying 
out their lawless designs, the mob left with their pris 
oner, declaring that they were going to take him to 
Jefferson county for trial. 

The sad termination of the affair is soon told. TJje 
mob took my kind, inoffensive brother about five miles 
and hung him without any trial whatever, after which 
they threw his body in a sink-hole thirty feet in depth, 
and there his body laid for more than a month before 
it was found, A few weeks after this cold blooded 


murder took place, Firman Mcllvaine had the audacity 
to boast of the ded, declaring positively that Frank 
had been hung by his express orders. This murder 
took place on the 20th day of November, 1861, about 
a month after I had been driven from Big River. 

A few nights after my arrival at Flat Woods I made 
my way back to my old home in order to briug away 
some more of my property, but on arriving there 1 
found that my house had been robbed and all my 
property either taken away or destroyed. I soon 
learned from a friend that the Yigilance Committee 
had wantonly destroyed everything that they did not 
want. I returned to FJat Woods in a very despondent 
mood. I was completely broken up. 

The union men were making war upon me, but I 
was making no war upon them, for I still wished to 
take no part in the national struggle. I considered it 
" a rich man s war and a poor man s fight." But a 
sense of my wrongs bore heavily upon me ; I had been 
reduced to absolute poverty (to say nothing of the 
murder of my brother) by the unrelenting cruelty of 
Firman Mcllvaine who was a rich man, drowned in 
luxury and surrounded by all the comforts of life that 
the eye could wish, or a cultivated appetite could 

The war was now raging with great fury in many 
sections of the country ; yet I remained at home intent 
on making a living for my family, provided I could do 
so without being molested, but during all the time I 
was at work, I had to keep a sharp lookout for my 


That leprous plague spot the Yigilance Committee 
finally ripened and culminated in the formation of a 
company of militia on Big Kiver, with James Craig for 
Captain and Joe McGahan for First Lieutenant. The 
very act for which they were so anxious to punish 
others, on mere suspicion, they themselves now com 
mitted with a high hand. 

They were ordered to disarm southern sympathizers 
and to seize on articles contraband of war, such as 
arms and ammunition. This gave them great latitude; 
the cry of "disloyal" could be very easily raised against 
any man who happened to have a superabundance of 
property. "Arms" was construed also to include arm 
chairs and their arms full of everything they could get 
their hands on; "guns" included Gunn s Domestic Medi 
cine; a fine claybank mare was confiscated because she 
looked so fiery) and a spotted mule because it had so 
many colors ; they took a gun from Mr. Metts merely 
because he lived on the south side of Big Eiver ; they 
dipped heavily into the estate of Dick Poston, deceased, 
by killing the cattle for beef and dividing it among 
themselves, under the pretext that if Dick Poston had 
been living, he most undoubtedly would have been a 



His house at Flat Woods attacked by Eighty Soldiers. 
Wounded. Miraculous Escape. Captain Bolin. Arrival in 
Green County, Arkansas. 

In April, 1862, after we had lived at Flat "Woods 
during six months of perfect trail quility, that same 
irrepressible Vigilance Committee, or some men who 
had composed it, learned finally that I was living at 
Flat Woods. Firman Mcllvaine and Joe McG-ahan 
succeeded in getting eighty soldiers from Ironton to 
aid in my capture. I had been hauling wood; as soon 
as I unloaded the wagon I stepped into the house, and 
the first thing I knew, the eighty soldiers and the 
vigilantees were within gunshot and coming under ftill 
charge. I seized my gun and dashed through a gap in 
their lines that Heaven had again left open for my 
escape. They commenced firing upon me as soon as I 
was out of the house. The brush being very thick not 
far off, I saw that my only chance was to gain the 
woods, and that as soon as possible. I ran through the 
garden and jumped over a picket fence this stopped 
the cavalry for a moment. I made through the brush; 
but out of the hundreds of bullets sent after me, one 
struck my leg below the knee and broke a bone. I 
held up by the bushes as well as I could, to keep them 
from knowing that I was wounded. While they had to 
stop to throw down a fence, I scrambled along about 


two hundred yards farther, and crouched in a gully that 
happened to be half full of leaves; I quickly buried 
myself completely from sight. The soldiers were all 
around in a short time and scoured the woods in every 
direction ; then they went back and burned the house 
and everything we had, after which they left and I 
saw them no more. 

Sixteen of Captain Bolin s men on the day before 
had been seen to cross the gravel road; this, probably, 
was why the federal soldiers did^not remain longer. 
Captain Bolin was a brave rebel officer, whose head 
quarters were in Green county, Arkansas, and under 
whose command some of the most daring spirits who 
figured in the war, were led on to deeds of heroism 
scarcely over equaled. 

Our condition was truly deplorable ; there I lay in 
the gully covered up with leaves, with one leg ren 
dered useless, without even the consolation of being 
allowed to groan ; my family, too, were again without 
shelter; the soldiers had burned everything clothes, 
bedding and provisions. 

As I lay in that gully, suffering with my wounds in 
flicted by United States soldiers, I declared war. I 
determined to fight it out with them, and by the assist 
ance of my faithful gun, "Kill-devil," to destroy as 
many of my blood-thirsty enemies as I possibly could. 
To submit to further wrong from their hands would be 
an insult to the Being who gave me the power of re 

After the soldiers had left, my wife came in search 
of me, believing that I was wounded from the manner 


in which I seemed to run. I told her to go back, that 
I was not hurt very bad, and that when she was satis 
fied that no one was watching around, to come at night 
and dress my leg. She went, however, in search of 
some friend on whom we could rely for assistance. 
Fortunately she came across Mr. Pigg, to whom she 
related the whole circumstance, and he came immedi 
ately to my relief. He was a man of the right stripe ; 
regardless of consequences, he did everything in his 
power to relieve my suffering, and to supply my family 
with bedding and provisions. He removed us by night 
to a place of safety, and liberally gave us all we needed. 
While I thus lay nursing my wound, my place of con 
cealmcnt was known only to a few men whom we 
could easily trust. 

In my hours of loneliness I had much time for re 
flection. The terrible strait in which I found myself, 
naturally led me to the mental inquiry : " Have I the 
brand of Cain, that the hands of men should be turned 
against me? What have I done to merit the persecu 
tion so cruel and so persistent?" I could not solve 
the questions; in the sight of a just God I felt that I 
did not merit such treatment. Sometimes I half re 
solved to go into some other State on purpose to avoid 
the war ; but I was constantly warned by my friends 
who were southern men, (the only men with whom I 
could hold communication at present,) that it would be 
unsafe to think of doing so, and that my only safety 
lay in my flight to the southern army. The vigilance 
mob had nearly destroyed every vestige of sympathy 
or good feeling I had for the union people. They had 


reported me, both to the civil and military authorities, 
as being a horse thief, and, withal, a very dangerous 

On thinking the matter over I lost all hope of ever 
being able to reinstate myself in their favor and being 
permitted to enjoy the peaceful privileges of a quiet 
citizen. The die was cast for the sake of revenge, I 
pronounced myself a Rebel. 

I remained very quietly at my place of concealment 
while my wife doctored my wounded leg for a week 
before my friend had an opportunity of sending word 
to any of Captain Bolin s men to come to my relief. 
As soon as my case was made known to them, however, 
a man was dispatched to see me for the purpose of 
learning all the particulars in the case. He came and 
asked me a great many questions, but answered none. 
When he arose to depart he only said, "all right rest 

The next night I was placed in a light spring wagon 
among some boxes of drugs and medicines, and was told 
that my wife and family would be taken to Bloornficld 
by Captain Bolin in a short time, and protected until I 
could come after them. A guard of two men accom 
panied us, and rode the whole night without speaking 
a word to any one. Nearly the whole route was 
through the woods, and although the driver was very 
watchful and used every precaution against making a 
noise, yet in the darkness of the night I was tumbled 
about among the boxes pretty roughly. 

When daylight came we halted in a desolate looking 
country, inhabited only by wild animals of the forest. 


We had traveled down on the western side of St. Fran 
cois river, and were now camped near the most western 
bend on that river near the southern line of Madison 
county ; we remained all day at that point, and I spent 
most of my time in sleeping. When the sun had dipped 
behind the western hills we again commenced our 
journey. Our course seemed to bear more to the east 
ward than it did the night before, and as we were then 
in a country not so badly infested with Federals, we 
traveled a good part of our time in narrow, crooked 
roads, but they were rough beyond all description, and 
I was extremely glad when about eight o clock in the 
morning we halted for breakfast on the western bank 
of St. Francois river, about midway between Bloom- 
field, in Stoddard county, and Crane creek, in Butler. 
While resting here a scouting party from General 
Jeff. Thompson s camp came riding up. 

"Well boys ! what have you in your wagon ?" 
" Drugs and medicines for Captain Bolin s camp." 
On hearing this they dismounted and kept up a lively 
conversation around the camp fire. Among their num 
ber was a jovial fellow who kept the rest all laughing. I 
thought I knew the voice, and as I turned over to peep 
through a hole in the wagon bed, he heard me and 
sprang to his feet. 

" Who in thunderation have you in the wagon ?" 
"Some fellow from St. Francois county, wounded and 
driven off by the Federals." 

" The devil ! why that is my native county. I ll take 
a look at that fellow. Its Sam Hildebrand as I live ! 
How do you do, old rapscallion?" 


""Well, well, if I haven t run across Tom Haile, the 
dare-devil of the swamps!" 

"Old drugs and medicines what are you doing 
here ? trying to pass yourself off for a great medicinal 
root I suppose. Do you feel tolerable better? Fm 
afraid you are poison. Say, Sam, did you bring some 
good horses down with you?" 

" Hush Tom ! if they find out that Tin not a horse 
thief, they will drum me out of camp !" 

The party soon prepared to start ; the first man who 
attempted to mount came near being dashed to the 
ground in consequence of the rattling of a tin cup 
some one had tied to his spur. Tom said it was a per 
fect shame to treat any man in that way ; the man 
seemed to think so, too, judging from the glance he 
cast at Tom. But they mounted, dashed through a 
sheet of muddy water, then over a rocky point, and 
soon were far away amid the dim blue hills. 

We started on, and after -graveling until about mid 
night, wo reached the State line between Missouri and 
Arkansas, there we remained until morning ; on start 
ing again we were in Green county, Arkansas, and 
sometime during the day we arrived safely at the Head 
quarters of Captain Bolin, and I was wel comely re 
ceived into the little community of families, who were 
here assembled for mutual protection most of them 
were the families of Captain Bolin s men. I received 
every attention from them that my necessities required, 
and as my wound seemed to be doing well, I felt for a 
time quite at home. 



Interview with Gen. Jeff. Thompson. Receives a Major s 
Commission. Interview with Captain Bolin. Joins the 
"Bushwhacking Department." 

Captain Bolin with most of his forces were some 
where in the vicinity of Bloomfield, Missouri, and as I 
was anxious to identify myself with the army, I got 
the use of a horse as soon as I was able to ride, and in 
company with several others proceeded across the 
swampy country east of the St. Francis river, for the 
purpose of joining General Jeff. Thompson. I reached 
his headquarters in safety, and stayed about camp, 
frequently meeting acquaintances from Missouri and 
occasionally getting news from home. As soon as I 
could gain admission to the General s headquarters I 
did so, and he received me very kindly. He listened 
very attentively to me as I proceeded to state my case 
to him how my brother had been murdered, how I 
had barely escaped the same fate, and how I had finally 
been driven from the country. 

General Thompson reflected a few moments, then 
seizing a pen he rapidly wrote off a few lines and hand 
ing it to me ho said, "here, I give you a Major s com 
mission ; go where you please, take what men you can 
pick up, fight on your o\vri hook, and report to mo 
every six months." I took the paper and crammed it 
down into my pantaloon s pocket and walked out, I 


could not read my commission, but I was determined 
to ask no one to read it forme, for that would bo rather 
degrading to my new honor. 

I retired a little distance from camp and taking my 
seat on an old cypress log, I reflected how the name of 
"Major Sam Hildebrand" would look in history. I 
did not feel comfortable over the new and very unex 
pected position in which I had been placed. I knew 
nothing of military tactics ; I was not certain whether 
a Major held command over a General or whether 
he was merely a bottle washer under a Captain. I 
determined that if the latter was the case, that I would 
return to Green county and serve under Captain Bolin. 

As I had no money with which to buy shoulder- 
straps, I determined to fight without them. I was rather 
scarce of money just at that time; if steamboats were 
selling at a dollar apiece, I did not have money enough 
to buy a canoe paddle. I stayed in camp, however, 
several days taking lessons, and hearing the tales of 
blood and pillage from the scouts as they came in from 
various directions. 

By this time my wound felt somewhat easier, so I 
mounted my horse and made my way back to Green 
county, and arrived safely at Captain Bolin s head 
quarters. The Captain was at home, and I immedi 
ately presented myself before him. He said he had 
heard of me from one of his s- outs, and was highly 
gratified that one of his men hud seen proper to have 
me- conveyed to his headquarters. 

"I presume," said he, "that you have been to the 


headquarters of General Jeff. Thompson. Did you 
see the < Old Swamp Fox ? " 

"I did." 

"What did he do for you? 

Here I pulled my commission from my pocket, that 
now looked more like a piece of gunwadding than any 
thing else, and handed it to the Captain. 

"Well, Major Hildebrand " 

"Sam, if you please." 

"Yery well then, what do you propose to do?" 

" I propose to fight." 

"But Major" 

" Sam, if you please." 

"All right, sir ! Sam, I see that you have the com 
mission of a Major." 

"Well Captain, I can explain that matter : he formed 
me into an indepcndant company of my own to pick 
up a few men if can get them go where I please when 
I please and when I go against my old personal ene 
mies up in Missouri, I am expected to do a Major part 
of the fighting myself." 

At this the Captain laughed heartily, and after rum 
maging the contents of an old box he drew forth some- 

o o 

thing that looked tome very much like a bottle After 
this ceremony was over he remarked : 

"Well sir, the commission I obtained is of the same 
kind. I have one hundred and twenty-five men, and we 
are what is denominated f Bushwhackers ; we carry 011 
a war against our enemies by shooting them ; my men 
are from various sections of the country, and each one 
perhaps has some grievance to redress at home ; in 


order to enable him to do this effectually we give him 
all the aid that he may require ; after he sets things to 
right in his section of country, he promptly comes 
back to help the others in return j we thus swap work 
like the fanners usually do in harvest time. If you 
wish an interest in this joint stock mode of lighting 
you can unite your destiny with ours, and be entitled 
to all our privileges." 

Captain Bolin s proposition was precisely what I so 
ardently desired. Of the real merits of this war I 
knew but little and cared still less. To belong to a 
large army and be under strict military discipline, was 
not pleasing to my mind ; to be brought up in a strong 
column numbering several thousands, and to be hurled 
in regular order against a mass of men covering three 
or four miles square, against whom I had no personal 
spite, would not satisfy my spirit of revenge. Even in 
a fierce battle fought between two large opposing 
armies, not more than one man out of ten can succeed 
in killing his man ; in a battle of that kind he would 
have no more weight than a gnat on a bull s horn. 

I was fully satisfied that the " Bushwhacking depart 
ment" was the place for me, with the continent for a 
battle field and the everlasting woods for my head 



Trip to Missouri. Kills George Cornecious for reporting on 
him. Kills Firman Mcllvaine. Attempt to kill McGahan 
and House. Returns to Arkansas. 

My wound kept me at headquarters for about six 
weeks after my arrival in Arkansas. During all this 
time I could not hear a word from my family, for the 
Federals had possession of every town in that section 
of country, together with all the roads leading from one 
county to another. 

On the 1st day of June, 1862, having been furnished 
a horse, I took my faithful gun, " Kill-devil," and started 
on my first trip back to Missouri. As my success would 
depend altogether on the secrecy of my movements, I 
went alone. 1 traveled altogether in the night, and 
most of the time through the woods. From Captain 
Bolin s men I had learned the names of Southern sym 
pathizers along the whole route, so I made it conven 
ient to travel slowly in order to favor my wounds and 
to get acquainted with our friends. 

I arrived in the vicinity of Flat Woods, in St. Fran 
cois county, Missouri, on the 12th day of June, and 
immediately commenced searching for George Corne 
cious, the man who reported my whereabouts to Mcll- 
vaino and the soldiers, thereby causing mo to be 
wounded and expelled from Flat "Woods. After search 
ing two days and two nights I succeeded in shooting 


ho was the first man I ever killed ; a little notch 
cut in the stock of my gun was made to commemorate 
the deed. 

To avoid implicating my family in any way w T ith my 
transactions, I satisfied myself with exchanging words 
with my wife through a friend who was thought by his 
neighbors to be a Union man. My family resided in a 
little cabin on Back creek, and my wife was cultivating 
a garden. 

To carry out the darling object I had in view that 
of killing Firman Mcllvaine I went to Flat river, and 
after remaining several days, I took a pone of bread 
for my rations and walked to his farm on Big river 
after night. 

I passed through his fields, but finding no place where 
harvesting was going on, I crossed Big river on a fish- 
trap dam and ranged over the Baker farm on the oppo 
site side of the river, about a mile above Big river 
Mills, where the Mcllvaine family now resided. 

I found where harvesting had just commenced in a 
field which formed the southwestern corner of the farm. 
This field is on the top of a perpendicular bluff, about 
one hundred feet high, and is detached from the main 
farm by a road leading from Ste. Genevieve to Potosi. 

A portion of the grain had already been cut on the 
western side of the field, near the woods; there I took 
my station in the fence corner, early in the morning, 
thinking that Mcllvaine would probably shock the 
grain while the negroes were cradling. In this I was 
mistaken, for I saw him swinging his cradle in another 
part of the field, beyond the range of my gun. 


I next attempted to crawl along the edge of the Muff 
among the stunted cedars, but had to abandon I lie at 
tempt because the negroes stopped in the shade of the 
cedars every time they came around. Then I went 
back into the woods, and passed down under the bluff, 
along the edge of the river, until I got opposite the 
place where they were at work; but I found no place 
where I could ascend the high rock. 1 went around 
the lower end of the blufV, and crawled up to the Held 
on the other side, but I was at too great a distance to 
get a shot. Finally, I went down to the river and was 
resting myself near a large flat rock that projected out 
into the river, where some persons had recently been 
fishing, when suddenly Firman Mcllvaine rode down 
to the river and watered his horse at a ford about sixty 
yards below me. I tried to draw a bead on him, but 
the limb of a tree prevented me, and when he started 
back he rode too fast for my purpose. 

At night I crept under a projecting rock and slept 
soundly; but very early in the morning 1 ascended the 
bluff and secreted myself at a convenient distance from 
where they had left off cradling. But 1 was again 
doomed to disappointment, for, as the negroes were 
cradling, Mcllvaino was shocking the grain in another 
part of the field. 

In the evening, as soon as they had finished cutting 
the grain, all hands left, and I did not know where they 
were. I next stationed myself at a short distance from 
tho river, and watched for him to water his horse ; but 
his father presently passed along leading tho horse to 


I again slept under the overhanging rock; and on 
the next morning (June 23d) I crossed the river on the 
fish dam, and went to tlie lower part of Mcllvaine s 
farm. There I found the negroes cutting down a field 
of rye. They cut away for several hours, until they 
got it all down within one hundred yards of the fence, 
hefore Mcllvaine made his first round. On getting a 
little past me, he stopped to whet his scythe ; as soon 
as he had done so he lowered the cradle to the ground 
and for a moment stood resting on the handle. 

I fired, and he fell dead. 

Nothing but a series of wrongs long continued could 
ever have induced me to take the life of that highly 
accomplished young man. 

After the outbreak of the war, while others were 
losing horses, a fine mare was stolen from him. The 
theft was riot committed by me, but my personal ene 
mies probably succeeded in making him believe that I 
had committed the act. 

He was goaded on by evil advisers to take the law 
into his own hands ; my brother Frank was hung 
without a trial, and his body thrown into a sink-hole, 
to moulder like that of a beast; my own life had been 
sought time and again ; my wife and tender family 
were forced to pass through hardships and suffering 
seldom witnessed in the annals of histoiy. The 
mangled features of my poor brother ; the pale face of 
my confiding wife ; the tearful eyes of my fond chil 
dren all would seem to turn reprovingly upon me in 
my midnight dreams, as if demanding retributive jus? 


tico. My revenge was reluctant and long delayed, but 
it came at last. 

I remained in the woods, near the residence of a 
friend for a day or two, and then I concluded to silence 
Joe McGahan and John House before returning to Ar 
kansas. I proceeded to the residence of the former, 
who had been very officious in the Vigilance mob, and 
posted myself in some woods in the field within one 
hundred yards of the house, just as daylight began to 
appear. I kept a vigilant watch for him all day, but 
he did not make his appearance until it had commenced 
getting dark; then he rode up and went immediately 
into his house. By this time it was too dark for me to 
shoot at such a distance. I moved to the garden fence, 
and in a few minutes he made his appearance in the 
door with a little child in his arms. The fence pre 
vented me from shooting him below the child, and I 
could not shoot him in the breast for fear of killing it. 

He remained in the door only a minute or two, and 
then retired into the house; and while I was thinking 
the matter over, without noticing closely for his reap 
pearance, I presently discovered him "riding off. I 
went to a thicket in his field and slept until nearly day, 
when I again took my position near the house, and 
watched until night again set in, but fortunately for 
him he did not make his appearance. 

I now went about four miles to the residence of John 
House, selected a suitable place for my camp, and slept 
soundly until daybreak. I watched closely all day, but 
saw nothing of my enemy. Ae soon as it was dark I 
went back to Flat river, and on the next night I 


mounted my horse and started back to Green county, 
Arkansas, without being discovered by any one except 
by those friends whom I called on for provisions. 



Vigilance mob drives his mother from home. Three com 
panies of troops sent to Big river. Captain Flanche mur 
ders Washington Hildebrand and Landusky, Captain Esro- 
ger murders John Roan. Capt. Adoph burns the Hildebrand 
homestead and murders Henry Hildebrand. 

I shall now give a brief account of the fresh enor 
mities committed against the Hildebrand family. The 
same vindictive policy inaugurated by the Vigilance 
mob was still pursued by them until they succeeded, by 
misrepresentation, in obtaining the assistance of the 
State and Federal troops for the accomplishment of 
their designs. 

A Dutch company, stationed at North Big Eiver 
Uridge, under Capt. Esroger ; a Dutch company sta 
tioned at Cadet, under Capt. Adolph, and a French 
company stationed at the Iron Mountain, under Capt. 
Flanche, were all sent to Big River to crush out the 
Hildebrand family. 

Emboldened by their success in obtaining troops, 
the Yigilance mob marched boldly up to the Hilde 
brand homestead and notified my mother, whom, they 
found reading her Bible, that she must immediately 
leave the county, for it was their intention to burn her 
house and destroy all her property. 

My mother was a true Christian ; she was kind and 
affectionate to everybody; her hand was always ready 


t j relieve the distressed, and smooth the pillow for the 
afflicted; the last sight seen upon earth by eyes swim 
ming in death has often been the pitying face of my 
mother, as she hovered over the bed of sickness. 

I appeal to all her neighbors I appeal to everybody 
who knew her to say whether my mother ever had a 
.superior in this respect. 

When ordered to leave her cherished home, to leave 
the house built by her departed husband, to leave the 
quiet homestead where she had brought up a largo fam 
ily, and where every object was rendered dear by a 
thousand sweet associations that clung to her memory, 
she turned her mind inwardly, but found nothing there 
to reproach her; then to her God she silently commit 
ted herself. 

She hastily took her Bible and one bed from the 
house but nothing more. She had arrangements made 
to have her bed taken to the house of her brother, 
Harvey McKee, living on Dry Creek, in Jefferson 
county, distant about thirty five miles. Then, tak 
ing her family Bible in her arms, she burst into a 
flood of tears, walked slowly out of the little gate, 
and left her home forever! 

I will here state that I was the only one of the 
Hildebrand family who espoused the Rebel cause. 
After the murder of my brother Frank, I had but 
three brothers left : William, Washington and Henry 
William joined the Union army and fought until the 
close of the war. Washington took no part in the 
war, neither directly nor indirectly. Never, per 
haps, was there a more peaceable, quiet and law- 


abiding citizen than he was ; he never spoke a word 
that could be construed into a sympathy for the 
Southern cause, and I defy any man to produce the 
least evidence against his loyalty, either in word or, 
act. While the war was raging, he paid no atten 
tion to it whatever, but was busily engaged in lead 
mining in the St. Joseph Lead Mines, three miles 
from Big River Mills, and about six miles from the 
old homestead. In partnership with him was a 
young man by the name of Landusky, a kind, indus 
trious, inoffensive man, whose loyalty had never 
once been doubted. My sister Mary was his affi 
anced bride, but her death prevented the marriage. 

My brother Henry was a mere boy, only thirteen 
years of age. Of course he was too young to have 
any political principles ; he was never accused of 
being a Rebel; no accusation of any kind had ever 
been made against him ; he was peaceable and quiet, 
and, like a good boy, he was living with his mother, 
and doing the best he could toward supporting her. 
True, he was very young to have the charge of such 
a farm, but he was a remarkable boy. Turning a 
deaf ear to all the rumors and excitements around 
him, he industriously applied himself to the accom 
plishment of one object, that of taking care of his 

On the 6th day of July, 1862, while my brother 
Washington and Mr. Landusky were working in a 
drift underground, Capt. Flanche and his company 
of cavalry called a halt at the mine, and ordered 
them to come up; which they did immediately. 


No questions were asked them, and no explana* 
tions were given. Flanche merely ordered them to 
walk off a few steps toward a tree, which they did ; 
he then gave the word "fire 1 " and the whole com 
pany fired at them, literally tearing them to pieces 1 

I would ask the enlightened world if there ever 
was committed a more diabolical deed ? If, in all 
the annals of cruelty, or in the world s wide history, 
a murder more cold-blooded and cruel could be 
found ? 

A citizen who happened to be present ventured 
to ask in astonishment why this was done ; to which 
Flanche merely replied, as he rode off, "they bees 
the friends of Sam Hildebrass!" 

It was now Capt. Esroger s time to commit some 
deed of atrocity, to place himself on an equality 
with Capt. Flanche ; so after a moment s reflection, 
he concluded that the murder of my uncle, John 
Koan, would be sufficient to place his brutality be 
yond all question. 

John Roan was a man about fifty years of age, 
was proverbial for his honesty, always paid his debts, 
and kept himself entirely aloof from either side 
during the war, but against his loyalty nothing had 
ever been produced, or even attempted. 

One of his sons was in the Union army, and an 
other was a Rebel. 

Being my uncle, and the father of Allen Roan, 
however, was a sufficient pretext for the display of 
military brutality. 

His house was situated about three miles from 


St. Joseph Lead Mines and about the same distance 
from the Hildebrand estate. 

On the 10th day of July, Capt. Esroger and his 
company rode up to his house, and. the old man 
came out onto the porch, with his white locks 
streaming in the wind, but never once did he dream 
of treachery. Esroger told him that he"vosone 
tarn prisoner," and detailed six men to guard him 
and to march along slowly until they should get 

They did so until they got about a mile from his 
house ; there they made him step off six paces, and 
while his eyes were turned towards Heaven, and 
his hands were slightly raised in the attitude of 
prayer, the fatal word " fire" was given, and he fell 
to the earth a mangled corpse. 

There was still another actor in this bloody trage 
dy, who had to tax his ingenuity to the utmost to 
select a part in which to out do, if possible, the acts 
of atrocity committed by the others. This was Capt. 

On the 23rd day of July, Capt. Adolph and his 
company with an intermixture of the Vigilance mob, 
went to my mother s house the Hildebrand home 
stead for the purpose of burning it up. The house 
was two stories high, built of nice cut stone, and 
well finished within, making it altogether one of the 
best houses in the county. 

The soldiers proceeded to break down the picket 
fence, and to pitch it into the house for kindling. 
They refused to let anything be taken out of the 


house, being determined to burn up the furniture, 
clothing, bedding, provisions, and everything else 
connected with it.. 

All things being now ready, the house was set 
on fire within, and the flames spread rapidly from 
room to room, then through the upper floor, and fi 
nally out through the roof. The house, with all the 
outer building was soon wrapped in a sheet of fire. 

My little brother Henry and an orphan boy about 
fourteen years of age, whom my mother had hired 
to assist Henry in cultivating the farm, were present 
at the conflagration and stood looking on in mute 
astonishment. Esroger ordered brother Henry to 
leave, but whether he knew it was their intention 
to shoot him after getting him a short distance from 
the house, as was their custom, it is impossible for 
me to say. Probably feeling an inward conscious 
ness of never having committed an act to which 
they could take exceptions, he did not think that 
they would persist in making him go ; so he re 
mained and silently gazed at the burning house, 
which was the only home he had ever known. 

When ordered again to leave, he seemed to be 
stupefied with wonder at the enormity of the scene 
before him. Franklin Murphy being present told 
him it was best to leave ; so he mounted his horse 
and started, but before he got two hundred yards 
from the house, he was shot and he dropped dead 
from the horse. Thus perished the poor innocent 
boy, who could not be induced to believe that the 
men were base enough to kill him, innocent and in- 


offensive as he was. But alas I how greatly was lie 
mistaken in them ! 

They next burned the large frame barn, also the 
different cribs and stables on the premises; then 
taking the orphan boy as a prisoner they left. 

Some neighbors, a few days afterwards found the 
body of my little brother and buried him. 

This was the crowning act of Federal barbarity 
toward me and the Hildebrand family, instigated by 
the low cunning of the infamous Vigilance mob. 

I make no apology to mankind for my acts of re 
taliation ; I make no whining appeal to the world 
for sympathy. I sought revenge and I found it ; the 
key of hell was not suffered to rust in the lock while 
I was on the war path. 

I pity the poor miserable, sniveling creature who 
would tamely have submitted to it all. 

Such a man would be so low in the scale of hu 
man conception; so far beneath the lowest grade of 
humanity, that the head even of an Indian would 
grow dizzy in looking down upon him. 



Trip with Burlap and Cato. Killed a Spy near Bloomfield. 
Visits his Mother on Dry Creek. Interview with his Uncle. 
Sees the burning of the homestead at a distance. 

As yet, I had heard nothing about the atrocities 
committed against the remaining members of the 
Hildebrand family; but in order to stir up my old 
enemies in that-quarter, I selected two good men, 
John Burlap and James Cato, to accompany me in 
another excursion to St. Francois county, Missouri. 

They, too, had been badly treated at the outbreak 
of the war, and had several grievances to redress, 
for which purpose I promised them my future aid. 
We procured Federal uniforms, and started late in 
the afternoon of July 13th, 1862; but on arriving at 
St. Francis river, we found it out of its banks from 
the heavy rains thftt had fallen the day previous. 

My comrades were rather reluctant about ventur 
ing into the turbid stream amid the floating drift 
wood; but I had ever been impressed with the truth 
of the old adage, that it was "bad luck to turn 
back." I plunged my horse into the stream and 
made the opposite shore without much difficulty. I 
was followed by Burlap and Cato, who got across 
safely, but were somewhat scratched by the drift 
wood. We built a fire, dried our clothes, took a 


"snort" from our black bottle, and camped until 

Nothing of interest occurred until we reached the 
vicinity of Bloomfield, in Stoddard county, Missouri, 
when we met a man in citizen s dress, whom we ac 
costed in a very familiar manner, asking him if there 
were any Rebels in that vicinity. He stated that 
there was a party of Rebels in Bloomfield, and that 
we had better make our way back to Greenville to 
the command, otherwise we would be sure to fall 
into their hands. He stated that he had been with 
them all day, pretending that he wanted to enlist ; 
that he had learned all about their plans, and 
thought that about to-morrow night they would all 
be taken in. I inquired if they had not suspicioned 
him as a spy ? He answered that they had not ; 
that he had completely deceived them. I then 
asked him if he did not want to ride behind me and 
my companions, by turns, until we reached Green 
ville ? He signified his assent by springing up be 
hind me. I let him ride about two miles, but not 
exactly in the direction of Greenville, for I told him 
that I was aiming to strike a certain cross road, 
which seemed to satisfy his mind. He had much to 
tell us about his exploits as a spy, and that he had 
learned the names of all the Rebels in Greenville 
and Fredericktown. By this time we had enough. 
I told him I was Sam Hildebrand, knocked him off 
my horse, and then shot him. 

I felt no compunction of conscience for having 
ended the days of such a scoundrel. A little notch 


underneath the stock of old " Kill-devil" was made, 
to indicate the probability that he would fail to re 

On the rest of our trip we traveled altogether in 
the* night, and avoided the commission of any act 
that would be likely to create a disturbance. We 
arrived safely at the house of my brother-in law, on 
Flat river, who lives within ten miles of the Hilde- 
brand homestead. 

Here, for the first time, I heard of the murder of 
my brother Washington, also that of my uncle, John 
Roan. Mother s house had not yet been burned, 
but she had been peremptorily driven from it, and 
had sought refuge with her brother, in Jefferson 
county. The country was full of soldiers, and the 
Vigilance mob were in their glory. Their deeds 
would blacken the name of John A. Murrel, the 
great land pirate of America, for he never robbed a 
lady, nor took the bread from orphan children; 
while they unblushingly did both. 

On learning these particulars, I determined to go 
to Dry Creek for the purpose of seeing my mother, 
although the soldiers were scouring the country in 
every direction for fifty miles for my destruction. 
We started at night, but having to travel, a circuit 
ous route, daylight overtook us when within six 
miles of my uncle s. We made a circuit, as was my 
custom, around a hillside, and then camped in such 
a position that we would be close to our pursuers 
for half an hour before they could find us. 

My companions took a nap while I kept watch. 


They had not been asleep long before I discovered 
a party of men winding their way slowly in the 
semi-circle we had made. There were ten of them, 
all dressed in Federal uniform. I awakened my 
companions, and they took a peep at them as they 
were slowly tracking us, at a distance of three hun 
dred yards. We could hardly refrain from making 
war upon them, the chances being so good for game 
and a little fun, but my object was to see my 
mother ; so we let them pass on to the place where 
our tracks would lead them out of sight for a few 
minutes, then we mounted our horses and rode on 
to another ridge, making a circuit as before, and 
camping within a quarter of a mile of our first am 
bush. On coming to that place, the Federals struck 
off in another direction, probably finding our tracks 
a little too fresh for their safety. 

When night came, we made our way cautiously 
through the woods to within a few hundred yards of 
my uncle s house. I dismounted, and leaving my 
horse with my comrades, approached the house care 
fully, and climbed upon a bee-gum to peep through 
the window. I discovered that there were two 
strange men in the room, and I thought I got a 
glimpse of another man around in a corner; but as 
I leaned a little to one side to get a better view, my 
bee-gum tilted over, and I fell with a desperate 
crash on a pile of clapboards. I got up in some 
what of a hurry, and, at about three bounds, cleared 
the picket fence, and deposited myself in the corner 
of the garden to await the result. 


The noise, of course, aroused the inmates of the 
house, and they were soon out with a light, but with 
no utensils of war except a short double-barreled 
shot-gun, in the hands of my uncle. He inspected 
the damage done to his favorite bee-stand T and 
breathed out some rough threats against the villains 
who had attempted to steal his honey. After order 
ing his family and the two strangers back into the 
house, he posted himself in a fence corner about 
thirty yards off, for the purpose of waging war 
against the offenders, should they attempt to renew 
the attack. 

The night not being very dark, I was fearful that 
if I attempted to climb over the picket fence, the 
old man might pepper me with shot. So I moved 
myself cautiously around to the back part of the 
garden, and found an opening where a picket was 
missing. Through this aperture I succeeded in 
squeezing myself, and then crawled around to the 
rail fence where my uncle was, until I got within 
two panels of the old man, when I ventured to call 
him by name, in a very low tone. He knew my 
voice, and said : " Is that you, Sam ? " My answer in 
the affirmative brought him to where I was, and al 
though the fence was between us, we took a hearty 
shake of the hand through a crack. He told me 
that the two men in the house were Union neigh 
bors, who came over to tell him that the trail of a 
band of bushwhackers had been discovered about 
six miles from there, and that on to-morrow the 
whole country would be out in search of them. He 


told me to go back until his neighbors took their 
leave, and then to come in and see my mother, who 
was well, but grieving continually about her son 

I fell back to my companions, reported progress, 
and again took my stand in the fence corner. As 
soon as the two neighbors were gone, my uncle 
made known to my mother, and to his wife and 
daughters, the cause of the disturbance ; the younger 
members of the family having retired early in the 
night, were all fast asleep. As soon as my uncle 
thought it prudent to do so, he came out and invited 
us in. Although my mother had received the news 
of my visit with a quiet composure, yet, on my ap 
proach, she arose silently and started toward me 
with a firm step, but in a moment she tottered and 
would have fallen, but I caught her in my arms ; 
she lay with her head on my bosom for some min 
utes, weeping like a child, and I must confess that 
now, for the first time since I was a boy, I could not 
restrain my tears. My mother broke the silence by 
uttering, in broken sentences: "Oh, my dear son! 
Have you indeed come to see your mother ? I 
thought I would go down with sorrow to my grave, 
as I never expected to see you again on earth!" 
How my manhood and my iron will left me at that 
moment ! How gladly would I have left war and 
revenge to the beasts of the forest, and secreted 
myself in some quiet corner of the earth, that there, 
with my mother and my family, I might once more 
take delight in the sweet songs of birds, and in the 


tranquil scenes of life, like those I enjoyed in my 
younger days! 

My mother became more tranquil, and we talked 
over matters with a great deal of satisfaction ; and 
my uncle, to divert our minds from a subject too 
serious, occasionally poked fun at me, by accusing 
me of trying to steal his bee-gum, in which he was 
joined by my two comrades. His two daughters 
were flying around in the kitchen, and presently 
announced a supper for us all. We enjoyed our 
selves finely until two o clock in the night> at which 
time we were compelled to leave, in order to secure 
a safe retreat from the vigilant search to be made 
for us during the following day. 

On starting, we rode back on our old trail half a 
mile, to where we had crossed a small creek, down 
which we rode, keeping all the time in the water, 
for about three miles, to a public road leading south, 
which we followed about six miles ; then, on com 
ing to a rocky place where our horses would make 
no tracks, we left the road at right angles and trav 
eled in the woods about two miles ; here we made a 
semi-circle around a hill, and camped in a command 
ing position. My comrades did picket duty while 
I slept nearly all day. At night we went to a friend 
who lived near my old residence, and from him we 
learned that our trail had been discovered on our 
way up, that the whole militia force, composed al 
most exclusively of my old enemies, together with 
some Dutch regulars, were quartered at Big Kiver 
Mills ; that the woods were being constantly scoured ; 


that each ford on Big river was guarded night and 
day, and that they considered rny escape impossible. 

Before the approach of daylight we secreted our 
horses in a deep ravine, covered with brush and 
briars, and then hid ourselves underneath a shelving 
rock near the top of a high bluff, from which, at a 
long distance, we had a view of my mother s house 
the homestead of the Hildebrand family. We re 
mained here all day, during which time the house 
was surrounded by soldiers, how many I could not 
tell, but they seemed to fill the yard and the adjoin 
ing inclosures. Presently I saw a dense column of 
smoke arise from the house, which told me too 
plainly that the Vandals were burning up the home 
of my childhood. 

The flames presently burst forth through the roof 
and lapped out their long, fiery tongues at every 
window. The roof fell in, and all that remained of 
that superb house was the blackened walls of mas 
sive stone. 

Gladly would I have thrown myself among those 
Yandals, and fought them while I had a drop of 
blood remaining; but it would have been madness, 
for I would have been killed too soon, and my re 
venge would have been ended, while my enemies 
would still live to enjoy their pillage. 

Immediately after dark we returned to our horses 
and commenced our retreat to Arkansas; but in 
stead of going south we traveled west about twenty 
miles, until we struck on a creek called Forche a ? 
Renault, in Washington county ; then turning south, 


we traveled over the wild pine hills west from Po- 
tosi, and camped in a secure place between Cale 
donia and Webster. 

We started on in the evening, and just before 
sunset made a raid on a store, getting all we wanted, 
including several bottles of "burst-head." We 
traveled mostly in the night, followed Black river 
down to Current river, crossed at Carter s Ferry, and 
made our way safely to Green county, Arkansas. 



Trip with two men. Killed Stokes for informing on him. 
Secreted in a cave on Big river. Vows of vengeance. 
Watched for McGahan. Tom Haile pleads for Franklin 
Murphy. Tongue-lashed and whipped out by a Woman. 

After remaining a few days at headquarters I 
commenced making preparations for another trip 
against my enemies on Big river. I was yet 
ignorant of the murder of my brother Henry, and 
knew nothing about the burning of my mother s 
house, except what I saw at the distance of a mile, 
a few hours before I started back to Arkansas. I 
was now fully determined to use the same weapons 
upon some of my enemies, and to retaliate by any 
and all means placed in my power. I told the boys 
my plan. Among those who were present was 
Thomas Haile, or "devilish Tom", as he was called, 
and as usual, he was spinning some of his laughable 
yarns ; but when I spoke the name of Franklin 
Murphy as probably connected with the house 
burning, he stopped short in his conversation, and 
after a moment s reflection he proposed to go with 
me to see some of his old friends. To this I readily 
consented, and after selecting another man, we 
started on our way. "We passed through Stoddard 
and then into Wayne county after a man by name 
of Stokes. Ho had fed me on my previous trips, inr 


ducing me to believe that he was a substantial 
Southern man ; I learned shortly afterwards that he 
was laying plans for my capture, and had, more than 
once, put the Federals on my trail. Notwithstand 
ing I had these statements from good authority, I 
was unwilling to take his life until I knew to my 
own certain knowledge that he was guilty. I did 
not wish to fall into the error, so common among 
the Federals, of killing an innocent man to gratify 
the personal enmity of some informer. 

Just after dark I went to his house alone, he 
greeted me in a very cordial manner and remarked : 

" Well, Mr. Hildebrand, I m glad to see you hope 
you are well and are yet too smart for the Feds." 

"Are there any Feds in Greenville ? " 

" None, sir, none at all ; I was there to-day ; the 
place is entirely clear of the scamps. By the way^ 
Mr. Hildebrand, are you alone ? " 

" Oh yes ; I am taking this trip by myself." 

"Glad to assist you, sir; you must stay with me 
to-night ; I ll hide you to-morrow in a safe place ; 
can go on to-morrow night if you like ; would like 
for you to stay longer." 

I thanked him for his proffered assistance, but 
told him that as I had troubled him so often, I would 
go to a neighbor s about a mile off and stay until 
the next night. I went back a short distance to 
where my men were and waited about an hour. 

My two men after putting on the Federal uniform, 
rode around the place and approached the house 
from another direction ; they rode up in a great 


hurry and called Mr. Stokes out. Tom Haile in a 
very confidential tone commenced : 

" Well sir ! we are on the hot track of Sam Hilde- 
brand ! he is here again ; he robbed a man down on 
the Greenville road, five miles below here, about 
sunset ; he came in this direction, and we concluded 
to ride down to your house thinking that you might 
have seen or heard something of him." 

" I reckon I have, by George ! Sam Hildebrand 
was here not more than an hour ago, and I tried to 
detain him ; he was alone and said he was going to 
stay until to-morrow night at a certain house ; I 
know the place ; hold on a minute ! I ll get my gun 
and coat and will go with you we ve got him this 
time, sure ! " 

"All right," said Tom, "come along; we are always 
glad to meet a man of your stripe." 

He marched along with the boys until they came 
to where I was waiting for them ; Stokes had for 
gotten to ask many questions, but on coming up to 
me in the dim moonlight he asked, " how many men 
have you ? " one of my men answered " twelve. " 
He at once began laying plans for my capture, and 
related what he had done on previous occasions "to 
capture Sam Hildebrand, but that Sam was too 
sharp for him." When I thought that he had said 
enough I stopped him with the remark " I am Sam 
Hildebrand myself! " and emptied old " Kill-devil " 
into his bosom. 

We then proceeded on, traveling altogether in the 
night, until about day-break ; one morning we got 


near the ruins of the old Hildebrand homestead, and 
called at the house of a friend. Knowing that we 
were in an enemy s country and liable to be trailed, 
we could not sleep, nor could we travel in the day 
time, considering the fact that if our enemies got 
after us we would have to run about one hundred 
and fifty miles to get out of their lines, and that the 
government had no less than four thousand men in 
active employment all the time for the especial pur 
pose of capturing me. We secreted our horses in a 
thicket under a bluff and entered a cave near by, 
which was afterwards called by my name. Our 
friend remained in the cave a few minutes with us, 
and it was from him I learned the particulars of the 
atrocities committed by the Federal troops, in the 
murder of my poor innocent brother Henry. 

I shall not attempt to describe my feelings, when 
the truth flashed across my mind that all my "broth 
ers had been slain in cold blood Frank, first, and 
now the other two leaving me not a brother upon 
earth except my brother William, who was in the 
Federal army, but whose well known loyalty was 
not sufficient to shield his neutral brothers from an 
indiscriminate butchery. For several hours I re 
mained quietly in the cave, studying the matter 
over ; but finally my mind was made up. I deter 
mined to sell my life as dearly as possible, and from 
that moment wage a war of fire and blood against 
my persecutors, while one should last, or until I was 
numbered with the dead. 

I hastily gathered my arms ; only one word 


escaped my lips: "Revenge!" sounded and re 
echoed from the deepest recesses of the cavern, and 
with one wild rush I made for the mouth of the 
cave ; but my two men happening to be there, 
sprang to their feet and choked up the passage ; but 
near it was another outlet I dashed through it, and 
down the steep declivity I hastily made my way, 
and mounted my horse. But Haile was close after 
me, and before I could pass around a fallen tree he 
had my horse by the bridle. 

u Hold on, Sam! Don t be a fool. If you are 
going to throw your life away, you cannot expect to 
kill a dozen; if you take your own time you may 
kill a thousand ! If I go back without you, what 
could I tell your wife and children ? Come, Sam, 
you must not forget your duty to them. See how 
they have clung to you! Light now, and go with 
me to the cave." 

I have but a faint recollection of going back to 
our retreat; but when I awoke it was nearly sunset, 
and Tom soon had me laughing in spite of myself. 

When night came we moved our position about 
five miles, to the residence of William Patton, as he 
was a man whom I particularly wanted ; but we 
we were unsuccessful ; he was at home when we 
first went there, but by some means he succeeded 
in eluding our grasp. We left there, and before day 
light we had secreted our horses in a thicket on 
Turkey Run, a small creek emptying into Big river 
above Addison Murphy s, and had stationed our 
selves near the residence of Joe McGahan, on the 


different roads leading to his house. About eight 
o clock in the morning I concluded that it was fruit 
less to watch for him any longer; so I proposed to 
repair to Franklin Murphy s residence, which was 
not more than a mile from where we were ; but 
Tom suggested that we must now return to our 
horses and consult as to our future movements. 

We found our horses all right ; but when I ex 
pressed a desire to stir up Franklin Murphy for 
being present at the burning of my mother s house, 
and several other little incidents that led me to 
think strangely of his conduct, Tom Haile replied: 

"I do not believe that he sanctioned, in any man 
ner, the outrages of which you speak; he could not 
rescue your brother Frank from the hands of a mob 
who seemed to have the sanction of public opinion; 
he could not prevent an army of soldiers, acting 
under the command of another man, from burning 
the house, nor from killing your brother Henry. Once 
for all, let me tell you that it will never do for you 
to attempt to harm that man. He is a member of a 
certain Order, that dates back for thousands of 
years ; the members are bound together by an ob 
ligation to watch over each other s interests, and to 
shield each other, as much as possible, from any 
impending danger." 

Tom was so sincere, and looked so serious which 
was not common with him that I told him I never 
would harm one of them, if I knew it, unless it was 
in self-defense. 

We now thought it best to make our way back to 


Arkansas. We passed through Farmington and 
Fredericktown on the following night, and then 
camped in the woods until evening. We started 
before night; in order to capture some fresh horses. 

Dressed in Federal uniforms, we were riding 
along the road in Madison county, when on passing 
a farm, 1 saw a fine looking horse in a lot near the 
house. I halted my men, dismounted and went up 
to the horse to catch him, but he was a little shy, 
and kept his head as far from me as possible. 

While I was thus trying to get a halter on the 
spirited animal, a woman stepped onto the porch 
and bawled out : 

" See here ! What are you trying to do ? " 

"I m trying to catch this horse." 

" Let him alone, you good-for-nothing ! Don t you 
look pretty, you miserable scamp, trying to steal my 
only horse ? " 

" Yes, madam, but I m afraid you are a rebel." 

"I am a rebel, sir, and I m proud of it 1 I have 
two sons in the rebel army, and if I had six more 
they should all be in it. You white-livered, insig 
nificant scum of creation I you had better let him 
alone. Why, you are worse than Sam Hildebrand! 
He wouldn t take the last horse from a poor widow 
woman ! " 

By this time I had caught the horse, but as soon 
as the woman made that last remark, I pulled the 
halter off, begged her pardon and left. 

On getting to headquarters, Tom never let me rest 
about that adventure. 



Another trip to Missouri. Fight near Fredencktown. Horse 
shot from under him. Killed four Soldiers. Went into their 
camp at Fredericktown and stole four horses. Flight toward 
the South. Robbed "Old Crusty." Return to Arkansas. 

While I was recruiting at our headquarters in 
Green county, Arkansas, Oapt. Bolin and most of 
his men returned to rest themselves for a while. 
Of course our time passed off agreeably, for we all 
had so much to say, and so much to listen to, that 
the mind was actively engaged all the time, render 
ing it impossible for time to drag heavily. 

Having thoroughly rested myself, on the 25th day 
of August I selected three men, and we started* on 
a trip to St. Francois county, Missouri, Nothing 
unusual occurred until we arrived in Madison 
county. On getting within about eight miles of 
Fredencktown, daylight overtook us, and we stop 
ped at an old friend s house for breakfast, who had 
always treated us kindly, for I had stopped with him 
several times on my previous trips. He stated to us 
that there were no troops in Fredericktown. Upon 
receiving this information, from a source, as we sup 
posed, so reliable, we felt quite free, and resolved 
to make our journey on that day to my old home on 
Big river. So, after getting our breakfast and feed 
ing our horses, we made our way quietly to our 


usual place of crossing the gravel road leading from 
the Pilot Knob to Fredericktown, when we were 
suddenly fired on from the brush by about fifty sold 
iers. Fortunately for us, we had not kept the 
usually travelled path that crossed the road at the 
place where the soldiers were stationed in ambush; 
consequently we were about two hundred yards 
from them, and none of us were hurt, though my 
horse was shot from under me ; the ball that pierced 
his chest, passing through my pantaloons, slightly 
burning my knee. 

At the word from me my three men whirled into 
the brush, and we retreated back in the direction 
from which we came, my men on horses and myself 
on foot. I was still lame from the effects of the 
wound received at Flat Woods, but we made good 
time, and effected our escape. On getting about a 
mile, I ordered my men to hitch their horses in a 
thicket, and we would hold the place if they under 
took to follow us. After waiting for some time and 
not hearing from them, we concluded to make our 
way cautiously back to where we had been fired 
upon, and try to get a shot. We crept slowly up, 
and saw six or seven men near the place, but we 
could not get close enough from the side we were 
on ; so we made our way in the direction of Pilot 
Knob about a mile, crossed the gravel road behind 
a hill, and came up on the opposite side. 

We got in sight of them just in time to see a 
party ride up, leading our three horses; at this, I 
concluded to try one of them at long ran$e, seeing 


distinctly from our position that we could get no 
closer without exposing ourselves too much. I 
pulled off old "Kill-devil" at one of them who wore 
shoulder-straps ; at the crack of the gun the gentle 
man got a very hard fall, which, I am fearful, killed 
him. At this they concluded to follow us into our 
native woods, for which they paid very dearly. 
They made a dash on us, which caused us to scatter 
in different directions, to divide their party up into 
several squads. Each one of us took a course 
through the woods in the roughest places we could 
find, which rendered it very difficult for them to fol 
low. I stopped at every place, such as fallen 
timber, steep banks and high rocks, to get a pop at 
them, and would be off again in a different direc 
tion. Sometimes I was in front, sometime* at one 
side, and frequently in the rear. I was pleased to 
see them have so much pluck, for it afforded old 
" Kill-devil" an opportunity to howl from every 
knob and dense thicket in the wild woods until 
about one o clock in the evening, when they gave 
up the chase and quit the unequal fight. 

On meeting my men, at dark, on the top of a cer 
tain high hill designated by me in the morning, I 
had four new notches on the stock of old "Kill- 
devil," indicating by that rough record that four 
more of my enemies had gone to that land where 
the righteous would cease from troubling them or 
making them afraid. Two of my men had killed a 
man apiece, and the other had made what we call 
in fishing " a water haul." I suppose, however, that 


he betook himself into some secure corner to medi 
tate on the uncertainty of all human affairs until 
the danger was over. 

The Federals, on the next day, started in search of 
us with three or four hundred men ; but their num 
bers being so great, we did not make war upon them 
that day. At night it rained very hard, and whilst 
it was raining we went into Fredericktown; finding 
all things quiet about camp, we managed to steal a 
h.orse apiece from them, but did not get the saddles 
and bridles, as we were in a huny. We got about 
thirty miles on our way back to Arkansas before 
morning each of my men riding bare backed, with 
only a halter for a bridle. I stopped, however, at 
the old gentleman s where we had got breakfast, for 
the purpose of having a small settlement with him, 
as he had deceived us in regard to the soldiers at 
Fredericktown, and, as we believed, had reported 
us, for we noticed that his son, a lad about fifteen 
years old, had rode off while we were eating our 
breakfast on that morning. I stopped, but the old 
man was not at home> so I took an old saddle and 
bridle from him, and went on to Arkansas, leaving 
the Federals to hunt for us, which we were told they 
kept up about ten days. 

Before reaching Arkansas, however, for the pur 
pose of laying in our winter s supplies, we diverged 
about twenty miles from our usual course to pay our 
respects to an old Union man living at the cross 
roads, who had caused the expulsion of two families 
from the neighborhood by reporting on them. 


He still had the remnants of what had once been 
a full country store. No Federal soldiers happened 
to be near the premises at the time, so we rode up 
to his house about sunset, and while I left one man 
at his door to prevent any one from leaving the 
house, we went with the old crusty fellow to the 
store. He was not disposed to be accommodating, 
but we bought everything that we could put upon 
our horses and upon a mule that we borrowed of 
him, and, after telling him to charge it to Uncle 
Sam, with the Big river mob for security, we left, 
and before morning were out of the reach of danger. 
On reaching camp, we relieved the needy, not for 
getting the two families that " Old Crusty " had 
driven from his neighborhood. 



Trip with three men. Captured a Spy and shot him. Shot 
Scaggs. At night charged a Federal camp of one hundred 
men. Killed nine men. Had one man wounded. Came 
near shooting James Craig. Robbed Bean s store and re 
turned to Arkansas. 

My family still remained in Cook settlement, in 
St. Francois county, Mo., and as they were in the 
enemy s country, I did not think it prudent to pay 
them a visit, knowing that it would only bring ruin 
upon them if the fact of my visit should ever be 
come known to the Unionists in that county. But I 
determined by some means or other to effect their 
escape to Arkansas as soon as it would be prudent 
to make the attempt. Capt. Bolin and hi* men had 
promised me their co-operation if called upon for 
that purpose ; but I was well aware that our whole 
force would be insufficient for the accomplishment 
of the object, if attempted by force of arms, for two 
or three thousand men could be brought against me 
in less than twenty-four hours. 

To keep myself well posted in regard to the 
strength of the enemy along the route, I selected 
three of Quantril s men, and^in the latter part of 
September, started on another raid into Missouri. 
On arriving at the St. Francis river we found it swim 
ming, but made no halt on that account, having by 


this time become inured to all kinds of hardships 
and dangers. 

On the second day after we started we left the 
main road and diverged several miles to our right, 
for the purpose of traveling in day time. On get* 
ting within sight of a house we discovered some one 
run into the yard, and immediately afterwards we 
saw a little boy running toward a barn. The move 
ment being a little suspicious, we dashed forward and 
were soon on each side of the barn. We discovered 
a man through a crack, and demanded his surrender; 
he came to the door and threw up his hands. On 
taking him back into the barn, we discovered his 
bundle to contain a complete Federal uniform, and 
when we noticed that the citizen s dress which he 
had on was much too small for him, we at once pro 
nounced him a Federal spy. We found a letter in 
his pocket, written by a man by the name of Scaggs, 
to the authorities at Fredericktown, containing the 
names of his rebel neighbors, whom he was desir 
ous of having burned out. One of the men in the 
list I happened to know, and by that means I knew 
that Scaggs lived about seven miles from there. We 
took the spy half a mile and shot him, then, chang 
ing our course, we started on the hunt for Scaggs, 
whose residence, however, we did not find until 
after dark. Dressed in Federal uniform, we rode up 
to the gate and called him out. On arresting him 
we took him to the house of a friend, who told us 
that Scaggs had already made two widows in that 
neighborhood by reporting their husbands. We took 


him with us until daylight appeared, hung him to a 
limb in the woods, and made our way toward Castor 
creek, in Madison county. 

The next night, on crossing Castor creek, we dis 
covered a camp of Federals; judging them to be 
about twenty or thirty strong, we concluded to 
charge them for a few minutes ; but on getting into 
their camp we found that there were three or four 
times as many as we expected; so we charged on 
through as quick as possible, still two of our horses 
were killed and one of my men was slightly wounded 
in the fleshy part of his thigh. After getting through 
their camp, we captured the four pickets who were 
placed in a lane on the opposite side. As we came 
from the wrong direction, they mistook us for their 
own men, until we had taken them in. My two men 
who had lost their horses, now mounted those taken 
.from the pickets. As soon as the pickets told us 
that they were Leeper s men, we shot them and 
hurried on. 

On our return, at another time, we were told by 
the citizens that we killed five and wounded several 
more in our charge through their camp ; making nine 
men killed, including the pickets. 

My wounded man could not be kept in Missouri 
with any degree of safety, and according to the 
usage of the petty tyrants who commanded the little 
squads of Federals, it would have been death to any 
man under whose roof the wounded man might 
have taken refuge; the man, without any questions 
asked, would have been shot, his house and prop- 


erty burned, and his wife and children turned out 
into the world, houseless, forlorn and destitute. To 
avoid the infliction of such a calamity upon any of 
our friends, my wounded man was under the neces 
sity of making his way alone back into Arkansas. 

My other two men and myself traveled the re 
mainder of the night in the direction of my old home 
in St. Francois county. I learned that a prolonged 
effort was made on the following day to trail us up 
to our camp in the woods ; but a rain having fallen 
about daylight, our tracks were entirely destroyed. 
On the following night we made our way to the 
house of a friend, near the ruins of my once happy 
home. Here I remained, resting myself and scout 
ing over the country on foot, two whole days and 
nights, trying to shoot some of the miscreants who 
had belonged to the old mob, but they kept them 
selves so closely huddled that I had no chance at 

On the second day, however, while lying near the 
road, James Craig, captain of the mob which by 
this time had assumed the name of Militia with 
two men whom I did not recognize, came along, rid 
ing very fast. I got a bead on Craig, but my gun 
did not fire ; and I will say here, that this was the 
only time during the war that old " Kill-devil " de 
ceived me. 

On returning to my friend near my old home, he 
stated to me that our horses, which we had con 
cealed in a nook in one of the bluffs of Big river, 
had been discovered by some boys who were hunt- 


ing, and that they had gone to report to the militia. 
Upon receiving this intelligence, we started at once 
to our horses, found them all right, and, not being 
satisfied with the results of our trip, we concluded 
to obtain some supplies from our good Union friends 
before leaving. We got on Flat river about the 
middle of the afternoon, and rode up to a store kept 
by the sons of John Bean, one of whom be 
longed to the Vigilance mobbut he was not there. 

The boys had sense enough to make no demon 
stration, so, without damaging anything whatever, I 
took such things as we needed, in part payment for 
my property which the mob had destroyed. 

The boys looked a little displeased ; they consid 
ered us bad customers, and did not even take the 
trouble to book the articles against us. 

The militia, having received the report of the 
boys, mustered their whole force and, on the follow 
ing day, struck our trail and overtook us between 
Pilot Knob and Fredericktown ; they followed us 
about ten miles, but only got sight of us occasion 
ally on the tops of hills we had to pass over. Night 
came, and we neither saw nor heard them any more. 
We traveled all night and about daylight we rode 
up to the house of a man named Slater, in the south 
ern part of Wayne county, Missouri, for whom we 
had been watching for some time. He had made 
himself very busy ever since the beginning of the 
war by reporting Southern men. He succeeded in- 
having several of them imprisoned, and their fami 
lies impoverished. We found him at home ; his 


manhood wilted like a cabbage leaf; we took him 
about a mile from home and shot him. 

We then pursued our way home to Green county, 
Arkansas, and divided our spoils amongst the desti 
tute families driven there by the ruthless hands of 
Northern sympathizers. 



The Militia Mob robs the Hildebrand estate Trip with ten 
men. Attacks a Government train with an escort of twenty 
men. Killed two and put the others to flight. 

Directly after the termination of my last trip, cer 
tain events transpired in St. Francois county of 
which it is necessary that the reader should be in 
formed. I have already stated that the infamous 
Vigilance mob finally came to a head by the organ 
ization of its worst material into a militia company 
with James Craig for captain and Joe McGahan for 
first lieutenant. As Craig could neither read nor 
write, and did not know his alphabet from a spotted 
mule, the lieutenant was actually the head and front 
of the marauders. Their design in assuming the 
form and style of a militia company was merely for 
the purpose of legalizing their acts of plunder. They 
did not pretend to take the field against the Rebels, 
or to strike a single blow in defense of the State or 
anything else. While drawing their pay from the 
government, they spent their time hunting hogs, 
sheep, and cattle belonging to other people. 

Having killed all my brothers but one (and he 
was in the Union army where they could not reach 
him), they proceeded to divide the property of the 
Hildebrand estate among themselves. Mother, 
though decidedly a Union woman originally, they 


had long since driven off to Jefferson county, with 
nothing but her bed and Bible. The homestead had 
been burned, yet there was an abundance of stock 
belonging to the estate, and a large field of standing 

They collected the stock and gathered the corn, 
and then proceeded to divide it among themselves. 
In this division they disagreed very much; a ques 
tion arose whether an officer was entitled to any 
more than a private, and a feW of them went home 
declaring that they would not have anything if they 
could not get their share. 

At the very time this valorous militia company 
had stacked their muskets against the fence and 
were chasing mother s sheep and pigs around 
through the dog fennel, I was capturing a govern 
ment train and getting my supplies in an honorable 

About the first of November, 1862. having learned 
that the Federals were in the habit of hauling their 
army supplies to Bloomfield from Cape Girardeau 
on the Mississippi river, Capt. Bolin and myself de 
termined to lay in our supplies from the same 

We took ten men and started with about ten days 
rations. Arriving on a stream called White Water, 
which, with Castor creek, forms the Eastern fork of 
St. Francis river, we concealed ourselves in an un 
frequented part of the woods. It was necessary that 
we should be thoroughly posted in regard to the ex- 


pected time of the arrival of the train, and the prob 
able strength of the escort 

I undertook this delicate mission disguised as a 
country farmer, in search of a stray mule. Without 
my gun I made my way on foot to the vicinity of a 
mill and there concealed myself near a road to await 
the arrival of some one going to mill. Presently a 
man came along with a carl and oxen, but I let him 
pass, fearing that my questions might arouse his sus 

I remained there nearly an hour for some boy to 
pass ; at length I saw one at a distance coming slow 
ly along, riding on his sack and whistling little frag 
ments of " John Brown." I stepped into the road 
before he got near me and walked along until I met 
him. I asked about my mule, but of course he knew 
nothing about him. I told him that I had concluded 
to hunt no further, but that I was anxious to return 
to Bloomfield if I could only meet with a convey 
ance for I was tired of walking so much* He told 
me that the government wagons would pass there on 
the following day and perhaps I could get a ride. I 
told him that I would be afraid to do that for the 
Rebels might capture me ; he said that there was 
no danger of that, for twenty soldiers always went 
with the wagons. 

I returned to my comrades with all the informa 
tion we wanted, and we soon settled all our prelim 
inary arrangements for the attack. After dark we 
took the road along which we knew they were to 
pass; we selected a place called the Round Pond, 


and secreted ourselves in a clump of heavy timber 
through which the soldiers could not see, in order 
that they might imagine the woods full of Rebels. 

Night passed and the morning hours wore away, 
when at length we saw two government wagons 
coming^ and in the sunlight sure enough, twenty 
bayonets were gleaming. 

We suddenly broke from the woods with a great 
shout, and dashed in among them with all the noise 
we could make. We fired a few shots, killing two 
and causing the remainder to break for the woods 
in every direction. The sole object of our trip being 
to get supplies of clothing, ammunition, etc., we felt 
no disposition to hunt them down, but let them con 
tinue their flight without any pursuers. 

We unhitched the horses and packed them with 
such things as we needed ; after which we burned 
the wagons and evjery thing else we could not take 
with us. 

On starting back we went through Mingo Swamp 
and made our way safely to St. Francis river, which 
we found out of its banks. With a great deal of 
difficulty we succeeded in swimming the river with 
our train, but with the loss of one man named Banks, 
who unfortunately was drowned. Becoming en 
tangled in a drift of grape vines and brush, he 
drowned before we could render him anv assistance. 



Federal cruelties. A defense of "Bushwhacking." Trip with 
Capt. Bolin and nine men. Fight at West Prairie. Started 
with two men to St. Francois county. Killed a Federal 
soldier. Killed Ad. Cunningham. Capt. Walker kills Capt. 
Barnes, and Hildebrand kills Capt. Walker. 

On arriving at headquarters we busied ourselves 
for several weeks in building houses to render our 
selves as comfortable as possible during the coming 
winter. Our headquarters were on Crawley s Ridge, 
between the St. Francis river and Cash creek, in 
Green county, Arkansas. It was a place well adap 
ted to our purpose, affording as it did a safe retreat 
from a large army encumbered with artillery. 

Many of Capt. Bolin s men had* their families with 
them, and our little community soon presented a 
considerable degree of neatness and comfort. I 
could have contented myself longer at this quiet 
place, but our scouts were constantly bringing us 
rumors of fresh barbarities committed by the differ 
ent Federal bands who were infesting the country 
in Southeast Missouri, making it their especial aim 
to arrest, burn out, shoot and destroy all those 
peaceable citizens who from the beginning had 
taken no part in the war. 

They were especially marked out for destruction 
who had been known to shelter "Sam Hildebrand, 


the Bushwhacker," as they were pleased to call me. 
If any man should happen to see me passing along 
the road, and then should fail to report the same at 
headquarters, regardless of the distance, he was 
taken out from his house and shot, without even the 
shadow of a trial to ascertain whether he was guilty 
or not. An old man, with his head silvered over by 
the frosts of seventy winters, who had served his 
country in many a hard fought battle before his tor 
mentors were born, and who now hoped to go down 
the declivity of life in peace and security, found 
himself suddenly condemned and shot for disloy 
alty, because he generously took a stranger into his 
house for the night, who afterwards proved to be 
"the notorious Sam Hildebrand." 

These same miscreants, however, would call at 
any house they pleased, and, by threats, compel 
even women, in the absence of their husbands, to 
cook the last morsel of food in the house, scraped 
together by poor feeble women to keep their chil 
dren from starving to death. 

Did I ever do that ? No, never ! Did I ever pun 
ish a man for feeding a Federal ? Did I ever shoot 
a man for not reporting to me the fact of having 
seen a Federal pass along the road ? If that was 
really my mode of proceeding, I would deserve the 
stigma cast upon my name. 

My enemies say that I am a " Bushwhacker." 
Very well, what is a " Bushwhacker ? " He is a man 
who shoots his enemies. What is a regular army 
but a conglomerate mass of Bushwhackers ? But 


we frequently conceal ourselves in the woods, and 
take every advantage ! So do the regular armies. 
But a Bushwhacker will slip up and shoot a man in 
the night ! Certainly, and a regular army will slip 
up and shoot a thousand. 

But a Bushwhacker lives by plundering his ene 
mies ! So did Sherman in Georgia, and a host of 
others, with this difference : That I never charged 
my government with a single ration, while they did 
so at all times. Besides, I never made war upon 
women and children, neither did I ever burn a 
house ; while the great marching, house-burning, 
no battle hero, turned his attention to nothing else. 

In fact, the "Independent Bushwhacking Depart 
ment " is an essential aid in warfare, particularly in 
a war like ours proved to be. There are a class of 
cowardly sneaks, a gang of petty oppressors like 
the Big river mob who can be reached in no other 
way. A large regular army might pass through 
where they were a dozen times without ever finding 
one of them. 

As I stated before, barbarities were committed by 
a certain band of Federals, that warranted our in 

Capt. Bolin, myself and nine other men mounted 
our horses and started on another trip, about the 
first day of December, 1862. 

We crossed the St. Francis, and traveled several 
nights, until we reached West Prairie, in Scott 
county, Missouri, where we came upon a squad of 


Federals, thirty in number, like an old-fashioned 

Imagining themselves perfectly safe, they had 
placed out no pickets ; so we ran suddenly on them, 
and before they had time to do any fighting they 
were so badly demoralized they knew not how to 

We killed four, wounded several more, and 
charged on through their camp, as was our custom; 
in half an hour we returned to renew the attack, 
but found nobody to fight. 

In our first charge, we caused several of their 
horses to break loose, which we afterwards got. We 
had one man wounded, having been shot through 
the thigh with a Minnie ball. Capt. Bolin and six 
men took the wounded man back with them to Ar 
kansas, while Henry Resinger, George Lasiter and 
myself started on a trip to St. Francois county. 

One morning, just at daylight, we found ourselves 
on the gravel road leading from Pilot Knob to 
Fredericktown, and about seven miles from the 
latter place. We concealed ourselves in a thicket 
and watched the road until evening before we saw 
an enemy. A squad of eight Federals came sud 
denly in sight, riding very fast. I hailed them, to 
cause a momentary halt, and we fired. One fell to 
the ground, but the others hastened on until they 
were all out of sight. While we were examining 
our game (the dead man), we discovered three more 
in the distance, who seemed to have got behind the 
party, and were riding rapidly to overtake them ; 


at this we divided, taking our stations in two differ 
ent places for the purpose of taking them in. On 
coming nearer we discovered that they were not 
dressed in Federal uniform. We took them prison 
ers and ascertained that they were Southern sym 
pathizers from near Fredericktown, who had been 
imprisoned at the Knob for several weeks, but hav 
ing been released they were on their way home. 
While we were thus parleying with them, asking 
questions relative to the forces at the different mili 
tary posts in the country, the party we had fired 
into now returned with a much larger force, and 
suddenly we found ourselves nearly surrounded by 
a broken and scattered line on three sides of us, at 
a distance of only one hundred yards. The odds 
were rather against ns> being about sixty men 
against three. I called quickly to my men to follow 
me, and we dashed for the uncompleted part of their 
circle. On seeing this movement they dashed rap 
idly toward that part and closed the line ; but when 
I started toward that point it was the least of my 
intentions to get out at that place ; I wheeled sud 
denly around and went out in the rear, contrary to 
their expectations, followed by my men, shooting as 
we ran, until we had gained some distance in the 
woods ; having the advantage of the darkness that 
was now closing in upon us, and being on foot, we 
escaped from the cavalry, who were tangled up in 
the brush, and were making the woods resound 
with their noise. 
We luckily escaped unhurt, although there were 


at least fifty shots fired at us. I received two bullet 
holes through the rim of my hat, and one through 
the sleeve of my coat, and one of my men got a 
notch in his whiskers. We were not certain of hav 
ing hurt any of the Federals as we passed out of 
their lines. We kept together and returned to our 
horses ; after a short consultation we mounted and 
rode back to get a few more shots at them, at long 
range ; but when we got to the battlefield we found 
no one there. Toward Fredericktown we then 
made our way, until we got in sight of the place, 
but saw nothing of the soldiers. During the night 
we visited several friends, and several who were not 
friends, but did no harm to any one, there being 
only two men at that time in the vicinity whom we 
wanted to hang, and they were not at home. On 
the next day we tore down the telegraph wire on 
the road to Pilot Knob, and stationed ourselves 
about a mile from town for the purpose of bush 
whacking the Federals when they should come to fix 
it up ; but they were getting cunning, and sent out 
some Southern sympathizers for that purpose, and 
we did not hurt them. But I made a contract with 
one of them for ammunition, and in the evening, 
when we had again torn the wire down, he came out 
to fix it up, and brought me a good supply of powder 
and lead. 

From him we learned that a general movement 
against us was to be made by the troops, both at 
Fredericktown and the Knob, on the following day. 

I knew that the whole country between there 


and Arkansas was in the hands of the Federals. 1 
knew also that they had learned my trick of invari 
ably making a back movement toward Arkansas, 
immediately after creating an excitement. 

As they seemed not likely to hunt the same coun 
try over twice, I concluded to go north of the road 
and wait a few days until the southern woods were 
completely scoured, and thus rendered safe for our 

V/hile waiting for this to be done, I thought it a 
good opportunity to hunt up a man by the name of 
Cunningham, who had been living in the vicinity of 
Bloomfield. During the early part of the war he 
professed to be a strong Southern man, and had been 
of some service to our cause as a spy ; but during 
the second year of the rebellion he changed his 
plans and became to us a very dangerous enemy, 
and was very zealous in reporting both citizens and 
soldiers to the Federal authorities. 

Our intention on this trip was to arrest and take 
him to Col. Jeffries camp, ten miles south of Bloom- 
field, that he might be dealt with by the Colonel as 
he might see proper. 

On gaining the vicinity of Farmington, where 
Cunningham now lived, we learned that he was 
carrying on his oppressive measures with a high 
hand, and was very abusive to those whom he had 
in his power. 

It is said that he even robbed his own brother, 
Burril Cunningham, and suffered him to be abused 
unmercifully by the squad of men under his com- 


mand. On reaching the Valle Forge we struck his 
trail and followed on toward Farmington ; but some 
Federals got upon our trail, and would have over 
taken us before we reached town, if a friend had not 
deceived them in regard to the course we had taken* 

We found Cunningham at his own house, and 
when we approached the door I- demanded his sur 
render ; he attempted to draw a revolver, and I shot 
him through the heart. 

Having accomplished our object, we now returned 
to Bloomfield and reported to Col. Jeffries. We re 
mained there about three weeks. 

On the 5th day of^ January, .1863, Capt. Reuben 
Barnes requested me and my two men to assist him 
in capturing* a man by the name of Oapt. Walker, 
who had a command in the Federal army, and was 
now supposed to be at his* home, about six miles 
from there. 

On approaching the house, Walker ran out, hold 
ing his pistols in his hands. As we were near 
enough, we ordered him to surrender, at which he 
turned around and faced us. On getting a little 
nearer, he suddenly shot Capt. Barnes, and started 
to run. Our dh-ase was soon ended, for I shot him 

We took Capt. Barnes back to Bloomiiekl, where 
he died the same day. We then returned *to Green 
county, Arkansas, and went into winter quarters. 



Started alone. Rode off a bluff and killed his horse. Fell in 
with twenty-five Rebels under Lieutenant Childs. Went 
with them. Attacked one hundred and fifty Federals at Bel 
linger s Mill. Henry Resinger killed. William Cato. Went 
back to Fredericktown. Killed a man. Robbed Abright s 

On the 23d day of January, 1863, 1 started alone 
on a trip to Missouri, for the purpose of making 
some arrangements for the escape of my family to 
Arkansas. I got along very well until the second 
night ; then as I was riding over a brushy ridge I 
was suddenly hailed by "Who comes there?" 

I halted and in an instant became aware of my 
close proximity to a Federal camp. I instantly 
wheeled my horse in the woods to the right; dashed 
furiously down a steep hill side for a short distance, 
and then in the darkness plunged over a precipice 
eight or ten feet high. My horse fell among some 
rocks and was killed, but I was precipitated a few 
feet further into a deep hole of water in some creek. 

I was a little confused in my ideas for a while, but 
I had sense enough to crawl up out of the deep wa 
ter ; as I stood there with my dripping clothes I 
heard some of the soldiers coming down the hill to 
ward me ; so I crossed the creek and took up the 
hill on the other side. I was now completely out of 
their clutches and could easily have made my es- 


cape ; but I had Jeft my gun in the deep hole, and 
the thought of leaving "Kill-devil" in that predica 
ment was more than I could bear. 

In a few minutes the soldiers left and went back 
up the hill. I now slipped back cautiously and 
got into the water to recover my gun. The water was 
deep and cold ; however, I waded in nearly up to 
my chin and felt around with my feet for the gun. I 
got my foot under it finally and raised it up ; but I 
had no sooner got it into my hands than I saw five 
or six soldiers returning with a light. As they were 
making their way down through a crevice in the 
bluff, some ten steps above the rock from which I 
had been precipitated, I had just time to wade down 
the creek, which was now only a few inches deep in 
places, and secrete myself behind a cluster of wil 
lows that hung over the edge of the steep bank 
about twenty yards below. 

The Federals remained ten or fifteen minutes, 
walking around my dead horse, and around the hole 
of water. They threw the glare of their lantern in 
every direction, and though I was completely hid 
from their observation, I must acknowledge that as 
I stood there in the water, shivering with cold, hold 
ing my dripping gun, I felt more like anything else 
in the world than a major. Finally they struck the 
trail that I had made up the hill with my dripping 
clothes and each one of them went in pursuit. 

Taking this opportunity I slowly left my retreat 
and waded down the creek for a long distance. I 
climbed up the hill on the same side on which the 


Federals were camped ; 1 made a wide circuit around 
them and came into the road, some four or five miles 
ahead. I walked rapidly to keep myself warm, and 
just before the break of day I arrived at the house 
of a friend, wet, hungry, and on foot. I was soon 
supplied with everything I wanted ; my gun was 
well attended to, and when morning came " Kill- 
devil" looked rather brighter than usual. 

I started on in the direction of Fredericktown and 
fell in with twenty-five Rebel boys, commanded by 
Lieut. Ohilds, who asked me to take command of his 
men and give the Federals a " whack" at Bellinger s 
Mill, on Castor creek. 

That locality for some time had been a place of 
rendezvous for Southern recruits ; that fact being 
well-known, the Federals concluded to station some 
men there. They were known to be about one hund 
red and fifty strong, but I consented on condition 
that his men all take an oath never to surrender un 
der any circumstances. After the oath was admin 
istered we marched to the place above mentioned, 
arriving there about eleven o clock at night, on the 
4th of February. We succeeded in capturing their 
pickets, made a charge on their camp, fought them 
for about five minutes (or until they got ready to 
fight) ; killed twenty-two of their number as we- 
were informed afterwards, and at the word we 
marched out on double-quick time. We took four 
prisoners with us and got some important informa 
tion from them, but finding that they were not MQ. : 
Neal s men we released them all. 


We lost one man killed, Henry Resinger, and three 
badly wounded, who recovered. 

We carried the wounded with us in our retreat, 
and at daylight we all started for Mingo Swamp. 

The Federals followed us, and as our march was 
retarded by our wounded ; they made their way 
around and charged us, striking our columns at right 
angles, they divided our line-cutting off seven of my 
men, whom they took prisoners. 

In this little skirmish I lost one man, and killed 
three of the Federals, at which they left our trail and 
permitted us to make our way to St. Francis river, 
which we were compelled to swim. 

We got one horse drowned, but got over safely 
without any other accident, struck camp and com 
menced getting our breakfast, dinner and supper, 
all the same meal. Presently some one from the 
opposite shore called for us to bring him a horse. 
From his voice we knew him to be William Cato, 
one of the seven who had been taken as a prisoner. 
One of my men swam over to him with a horse, and 
when he had arrived safely in camp, he informed us 
that six of the prisoners were shot, and that he had 
made his escape by dodging them in the brush. He 
was barefooted, and had torn nearly all his clothing 

We afterwards learned that the officer in command 
at Bollinger s Mill was Capt. Leeper from Ironton, 

Not being satisfied with my trip, I did not remain 
but one week in camp, before I selected two men 


and started back to Missouri to make another effort 
towards getting my family to Arkansas. On getting 
to Fredericktown we found the place full of sold- 
iers. In that town there lived a Dutchman, whose 
meddlesome disposition led him to be very zealous 
in the cause of putting soldiers on the track of pri 
vate citizens. It seems that he never left town, and 
that it would be impossible to kill him unless it 
were done in public. 

After night I layed off my coat, and gathering up 
a saw buck, which I found at a wood pile, I walked 
straight across a street or two, until I reached the 
door, thinking thereby not to attract any particular 
attention ; but on being told that he was not at 
home, I carried myself out of town as soon as cir 
cumstances would permit, got with my two men and 
started on toward Farmington. When morning be 
gan to approach we left the road several miles and 
secreted ourselves on a certain hill, for a friend 
on whom we had called during the night told us 
that the military authorities were aware of my 
presence in the neighborhood, and that they had se 
cured the services of two or three good woodsmen 
to aid in tracking me up. 

About one o clock in the afternoon we discovered 
a man tracking us slowly aruond our steep hill, look 
ing cautiously ahead, holding his gun in a position 
to raise and fire in an instant. The ground was hard 
and our horses were not easily trailed, but our pur 
suer kept moving along very slowly. We were at a 
loss to kn-ow whether he was really a brave man or 


a natural fool. Not coming to any definite conclu 
sion however, I concluded to make my way down 
the hill a little to gratify his curiosity by letting him 
find me, I wounded him severely on purpose to 
let him see me, but he yelled so loud that I had to 
kill him with my knife, for I wanted " peace" about 
that time. 

We heard some horsemen coming, so we hastened 
away from there and secreted ourselves in a thicket 
on Wolf creek, near the residence of John Griffin. 

Here I learned that my wife had procured a little 
wagon and a small yoke of oxen, with which to 
move to Arkansas ; that she started with the family 
on the 16th day of February, and by this time was 
in the vicinity of Bloomfield. 

At night we went out on the plank road leading 
from Farmington to Ste. Genevieve and fired into a 
camp of Federals ; we could not get near enough to 
do them any harm, but wished to draw them out to 
hunt for us ; but in this we failed and had to abandon 
the project. 

From there we went to the junction of the Pilot 
Knob and Iron Mountain roads, and robbed a store 
belonging to a Dutchman by the name of Abright. 
We patronized him very liberally and started back 
to Arkansas with all the goods we could pack. 

At this stage of the war the Federals held pos 
session of all the principal places in Southeast Mis 
souri. Bloomfield was also held by them, and there 
was no doubt in my mind but what my familv was 
now in their hands. 


While passing through Stoddard county, the Fed 
erals overtook us, and run us so closely that we 
were compelled to throw off a part of our loads ; 
on arriving at St. Francis river we found it guarded. 
Our only chance was to whip the Federals, 
and we determined to try it. We retreated into a 
dense cane brake and then commenced upon them. 
We killed three of their men on the second round 
and then they fled. We got home safely and were 
again prepared " to clothe the naked and feed the 



Started to Bloomfield with three men. Fight at St. Francis 
River. Starts on alone. Meets his wife and family. They 
had been ordered off from Bloomfield. Capture and release 
of Mrs. Hildebrand. Fight in Stoddard county. Arrival in 

For the purpose of getting my family to Arkan 
sas, it was necessary that I should make a trip to 
Bloomfield, although that place was now held by a 
large Federal force under McNeal. 

I started with three good men, crossed the St. 
Francis river at a shoal, but we had not proceeded 
more than ten miles when we ran into a company of 
McNeal s men, who instantly fired upon us, slightly 
wounding one of my men in -the fleshy part, of his 

We thought it best for four men to retreat from 
the fire of nearly one hundred, which we did, in 
double-quick time. They pursued us very closely, 
but were at too great a distance for them to shoot 

Wishing to get a few shots at them, we concluded 
to cross the river and give them a fight from the 
other side ; so we plunged our horses in the deep 
water at the nearest point, were swimming, and had 
nearly gained the opposite shore, when the Federals 

ran onto the bank we had just left and fired a volley 


at us with their muskets; but their shots were all 
too high. 

We reached the bank where the willows were 
very thick, jumped off our horses and returned the 
fire. From our place of concealment we could 
easily see that three of their number were killed. 
They kept up a random fire at the willow thicket, 
in which they wounded three of our horses and 
caused them to run up into the woods, terribly af 
frighted. By this time they had ceased firing and 
had taken refuge behind trees, and were watching 
for our movements ; in this position they stood two 
rounds from our rifles, in which four of them fell, 
having been shot through the head. Before we 
could get another shot we discovered a portion of 
the men making their way up the river, and I 
understood at once that their intention was to en 
gage our attention at that place, while a part of 
the command would make their way around and 
take us in ; so we retreated in good order to a place 
of safety, and remained all night. 

The next morning were crossed the river in compa 
ny with several others ; and found that the Federals 
during the night after the fight had gone to Bloom- 
field. They procured a wagon and team from an 
old man living near for the purpose of hauling off 
their dead. The old man stated to us that there 
were seven killed and two wounded. 

I now decided to change my tactics, and try my 
luck alone and on foot. I thought that by stealthy 
movements I could find my family and get them off 


to Arkansas much better than with a small com 
pany of men. 

In a few days I met my family about twenty miles 
south from Bloomfield on their way to Arkansas, in 
an old wagon pulled by a small yoke of oxen, which 
my wife was driving. I learned from her that some 
of Capt. Bolin s men had removed her from Flat 
Woods to Bloomfield, in Stoddard county, Missouri, 
but that McNeal, on taking possession of the town, 
had ordered her to leave, adding that the wife and 
family of that "desperado, Sam Hildebrand," could 
not remain within one hundred miles of his head 

With the wagon and oxen furnished her by a 
friend to our cause, she took the children and some 
provisions and started out upon the road, and when 
I met them she was making her way as best she 
could, but was just preparing to camp for the night 
in the lone woods. She cautioned me very particu 
larly about the Federals, and said that she had seen 
two or three squads that day. On the following morn 
ing we resumed our journey, and about ten o clock 
I met six Union soldiers, who came suddenly upon 
me at a short turn in the road, but, being dressed in 
Federal uniform, they did not suspicion me as being 
a Rebel. They asked me to what command I be 
longed, and I answered them to Capt. Rice s, sta 
tioned at that time in Fredericktown ; at this they 
seemed satisfied, and passed on, swearing vengeance 
against any Rebels that might fall in their way. 

As soon as they were out of sight, I told my wife to 


drive on, while I traveled through the brush awhile. 
I had scarcely got out of the road when I discovered 
a whole regiment of Federal soldiers, not more than 
half a mile off, who were coming directly toward 
us. I soon gained an eminence in the^woods, from 
which I could observe their maneuvers. They stop 
ped at the wagon, and after parleying with my wife 
for several minutes, they turned her team around 
and took my family along. 

At this juncture it is needless to say that I be 
came enraged, and knowing an old rebel citizen 
about two miles off, I resolved at once to go to him, 
thinking that perhaps I might hear from some of 
our boys, for I was sure that if there were any in 
the neighborhood the old man would know it. I 
was overjoyed when he told me that James Oato 
and Wash Nabors were taking a nap in the barn, 
while he was standing on the lookout. I repaired 
to the barn at once, told them the fate of my family, 
and that I wanted their assistance that we might 
amuse ourselves in bushwhacking them. 

After getting something to eat, and some provi 
sions to take along with us, we started through the 
dense forest, and got in sight of them about sun 
down. Before darkness set in we killed a man 
apiece, and then lurked around the camp all night. 
About every two hours, Cato, Nabors and myself 
would meet at a certain hill, designated before dark, 
and report progress. I made a great many random 
shots, but I think that during the night I killed as 
many as fifteen men. My comrades thought that they 


both together killed as many more.*! I learned after 
wards that the number we killed during the night 
was just thirty ; none were wounded that I ever 
could hear of. 

Morning began to* approach, and^we fell back to 
a high hill, until they began to move toward Bloom- 
field. Throughout the day they kept their skirmish 
lines so strong that we could do nothing ; however, 
we got several shots, at long range, at their scouts, 
but during the entire day 1 was not certain of kill- 
in gjmore thanTtwo^men. 

We kept in the" woods, as near the troops as we 
could, until "we^ had followed them into the very 
suburbs of Bloomfield ; then we started back along 
the road about dark, intending to pick up stragglers. 
Judge of my surprise and joy when, on going back, 
I came across my wife and children sitting by the 
roadside, where the Federals had left them about 
noon, but without the oxen and wagon, and without 
any provisions, bedding or change of clothing. 

The capture of my wife had proved rather fatal 
to them, and her detention among them had pro 
duced nothing but disaster and death. 

It reminded me of a passage of Scripture that I 
once heard my mother read from the Book of Sam 
uel, giving an account of the Philistines having 
captured the ark of the covenant; they took it from 
one place to another, but a plague was produced 
wherever it was detained, until many thousands 
were dead. Finally, to get it out of their^ hands, 
t ley hitched up a yoke of cattle to a cart, and with- 


out any driver started it out of the country. The 
Federals, however, varied somewhat from the Philis 
tines, for, instead of giving her a cart and oxen, and 
loading her down with presents of gold, they took 
her wagon and oxen and everything else she had, 
and left her by the roadside in an unknown wilder 

On seeing me my family was greatly relieved in 
mind, yet they were in a starving condition, and we 
had nothing to divide with them. Believing that 
the " ark " might have been left there for the pur 
pose of trapping me, I took my position about two 
hundred yards from my family, and remained while 
my two comrades were gone after something for 
them to eat. After their return I made a fire for 
my wife in the woods, and gave her directions in 
regard to the course she must travel in the morning, 
in order to reach the house of our old friend. After 
bidding them adieu, I was forced to leave them in 
their forlorn condition. We hastened on to our old 
friend and requested him to meet my family as 
early as possible, and convey them to his house. 
He did so ; and in the evening of the same day, 
having procured the use of a team, we started on 
for Arkansas. 

Col. McNeal sent out a party from Bloomfield, 
under Oapt. Hicks, who followed us to the St. Fran 
cis river, but we had got across, and they did not 
venture very close to the bank, having learned a 
lesson from me on my upward trip a short time be 


We arrived safely at Capt. Bolin s carnp, and my 
family was soon safely housed and supplied with 
the necessaries of life, in the charming little com 
munity where a score of pleasant families resided. 



Put in a crop.- Took another trip to Missouri with six men. 
Surrounded in a tobacco barn. Killed two men in escaping. 
Killed Wammack for informing on him. Captures some 
Federals. and releases them on conditions. "Went to Big 
River Mills. Robbed Highley s and Bean s stores. 

Having succeeded in getting my family to Green 
county, Arkansas, I settled on a piece of land whose 
owner had left for parts unknown, intending to hold 
the same until the owner should return. During 
the month of April, 1863, I was an " honest farmer," 
and by the 10th day of May I finished planting a 
field of corn, while at the same time my wife put in 
a large garden. 

At this occupation I enjoyed myself very well 
for a while; I got some chickens, a few pigs, and a 
milch cow, so that my family could get along with 
out materially interfering with my main object in 
life that of killing my enemies. 

The boys were now anxious to make another trip 
to Missouri ; so I took six men and started for Cas 
tor creek, in Madison county, after some notorious 
scamps who had been giving us trouble on previous 
trips, by putting the Federals on our trail, besides 
the constant annoyance they gave Southern citi 
zens in that country, by reporting them to the Fed 


We passed west of Bloomfield through the South 
ern part of Madison county, arriving in the neigh 
borhood about daylight on the morning of the fourth 
day from home, secreted our horses, leaving three 
men to guard them, while myself and the others 
proceeded to spy out the men for whom we had 
come in search. We did not succeed in finding any 
of them, and after returning to our camp in the 
woods at sunset, we went to an old friend s about 
three miles distant, where we could get a night s 
sleep, and something to eat for ourselves and horses. 

On arriving, our old friend received us kindly, but 
told us that as he was not well we would be under 
the necessity of taking care of our own horses, which 
we were very willing to do. After supper we tied 
our horses in a neighboring thicket ; but as the 
weather was rather inclement, we repaired to an old 
tobacco barn for shelter; it was about one hundred 
yards from the woods on one side, and about two 
hundred on the other. Here we slept soundly, 
keeping one man on watch all the time, but as we 
had not slept more than one hour in each twenty-four 
since starting, our sentinel fell asleep. In the morn 
ing I went out to take a peep at the weather, and 
was saluted by a shot that struck a board just above 
my head. I sprang into the barn, raised the alarm, 
and took a peep at the position of our enemies. 
They were about thirty strong, and had completely 
surrounded the barn, posting themselves behind 
stumps and old trees, but at a distance of about one 
hundred and fifty yards. 


The extent of their circle made their lines very 
weak, and perceiving that they were much the 
strongest in front of the barn, I ordered my men to 
remove the underpinning from one place in the rear 
of the house. We crept through this aperture, and 
lay on the ground at the back of the building, being 
protected from observation by a pile of rubbish. 
I proposed taking the lead, and directed my men to 
follow in a straight line, but to keep twenty or 
thirty feet apart. I arose and started at full speed ; 
but before I got fifty yards, all the Federals who were 
insight of me, fired off their guns ; yet I was not 
killed, but felt a stinging sensation on the point of 
my shoulder, which afterwards proved to be a slight 
ebrasion, caused by a musket ball. On reaching 
the line, I shot the two men with my revolver who 
were guarding that point, without making the least 
halt ; but I could not help feeling a thrill of pity for 
them and wished that they were again alive and on 
my side, for they were brave men and faced the 
music nobly, but missed their aim. 

My men followed me through to the woods un 
hurt, save one poor fellow, who was pierced by a 
musket ball just as he reached the edge of the tim 

On reaching the woods, which were very thick, 
we felt much relieved, and were quite at home. We 
reached our horses, and fearing that the Federals 
might find them, we mounted and rode back to give 
them a little brush ; but finding them all gone, we 
made our way around to our friend in whose barn we 


had slept, but found that the Federals had killed him, 
and had committed many other depredations about 
the place before leaving. Our kind lady, who had 
thus so unexpectedly been made a widow, was suffer 
ing the pangs of uncontrollable sorrow, but from her 
broken sentences we learned that a citizen by the 
name of Wammack was with the soldiers, and was 
probably the informant at whose instigation the 
whole tragedy had been brought about, and that as 
the soldiers left in the direction of Fredericktown, 
he took the road toward his house. We concluded 
to try, and if possible, to get Wammack. I ordered 
three of my men to take the horses out of the neigh 
borhood, to travel over ground where they would 
occasionally make plain tracks, until they got to a 
certain creek, eight or ten miles off, then to turn 
back, keeping in the creek some distance, and then 
to secrete themselves in the bushes near the resi 
dence of one Mr. Honn. Our arrangements having 
been completed, we separated ; myself and my two 
men had not proceeded far, keeping all the time 
near the road, before we discovered three men com 
ing from the direction of Wammack s house. When 
they were near us, we hailed them, and leaving our 
guns, we stepped out into the road where they were 
and inquired the way to Cape Girardeau. We told 
them that we had obtained furloughs at Ironton the 
day before, and were on our way to Illinois to see our 
families, but that a few miles back we met some sol 
diers, who stated that they had got into a skirmish 
with the bushwhackers and were going to Freder- 


icktown to bring out the whole force ; so we con 
cluded to hide in the woods until they returned. 

They mistook us for Federal soldiers, sure enough, 
and one of them related the whole circumstance in 
a very jubilant manner, stating that he was with 
the soldiers at the time, that they had killed four of 
the bushwhackers and the old Rebel who had har 
bored them, and that if he had his way he would 
burn up the whole premises. I suggested that we 
had better go to the main road and wait until the 
force came; but he objected, for the reason that he 
wished to see who buried the dead bushwhackers. 

By this time I thought I could venture to ask him 
his name, and after telling mo that his name was 
Wammack, and that he was " all right," he made a 
motion to proceed, at which we drew our revolvers 
and told him that he was a prisoner. The other two 
having answered a sign which I made while talking 
to Wammack, I saw that they were "all right" in 
stead of him. I told them that they could go, but 
requested them to bury the dead, which they cheer 
fully agreed to do. 

Just as this conversation ended, Wammack sud 
denly jerked out his revolver and attempted to 
shoot one of my men and broke to run ; the move 
ment was so sudden and so unexpected that he got 
nearly forty yards before we succeeded in killing 

We then left that part of the country and went (o 
Wayne county; while stopping there for supper at 
the house of an old Rebel, a young man came in 

staled that about five miles from there, on iost 
creek, he saw some Federals putting up for the night; 
on receiving this pleasing information, we deter 
mined to go and take them " out of the wet," as one 
of my boys expressed it, and after feeding our horses 
and taking our rations, we were soon on our way 
for that purpose. 

We found the place without much difficulty, made 
our way to the house and knocked at the door. The 
man of the house came, and in answer to our ques 
tions, stated that there were live Federals sleeping 
in the stable loft, and that their horses were in the 
stable. After telling the old man who we were, 
and ordering him not to leave the house, we pro 
ceeded to surround the stable, which stood in the 
middle of a lot of perhaps about half an acre. Our 
positions having been taken, I set fire to a hay stack 
that stood in the corner of the lot, nearly in front of 
the stable door. When the hay blazed up, the light 
shone so suddenly on the Federals that they sprang 
to their arms in a great fright. I hailed them, de 
manding their surrender, and told them that I was 
Sam Hildebrand, and that I and my twenty men had 
them completely in our clutches, but that if they 
would surrender without firing a gun, I would let 
them off on easy terms. To this they gladly ac 
ceded, and coming down from the loft, they piled 
their arms in the lot. I ordered two of my men to 
extinguish the fire that had caught in the fence, 
and then proceeded to negotiate with our prisoners, 
which was done jn a friendly and satisfac-tory man- 


ner. Kough jokes were passed back and forth with 
perfect freedom, and they repeated some of the 
many tales of blood circulated in camps about me, 
in which I was represented as a hero more daring 
and dreadful than "Jack the Giant Killer." 

At this time there were two of Capt. Bolm s men 
in prison at Ironton, who had been captured while 
on a scout up Black river in Reynolds county, Mis 
souri; and as my prisoners belonged to the com 
mand stationed at that place, I proposed to them 
that if they would pledge themselves that by some 
means or other they would manage to let the two 
boys escape, we would release them, and permit 
each one to retain his private property. To this 
they agreed; they retained their pistols, but gave 
up their guns and horses. 

We all stayed until morning, took breakfast to 
gether with the old man, who seemed highly pleased 
at the turn matters had taken, and occasionally con 
tributed to our fun by some of his timely jokes. 

After breakfast we separated, the Federals mak 
ing their way on foot, carrying a pass from me, writ 
ten by one of my men, to prevent any of our boys 
from molesting them on their way, should they hap 
pen to fall into their hands. 

After a short consultation with my men, we con 
cluded that it was about time to make our enemies 
in St. Francois county pay their taxes to the South 
ern Confederacy. On the evening of the last day 
of May, we rode into the little town at Big River 
Mills, and made a haul on the store of John R 


Highley, but not being certain of his politics, we 
were very light on him. We then went six miles 
further to John Bean s store on Flat river, arriving 
there about 11 o clock in the night. We knew him 
to be a strong Union rnan, and we knew also that 
one of his sons belonged to the Big river mob. We 
supplied ourselves with such articles as were 
needed by the families at Capt. Bolin s camp. 

In a few days after our arrival in Green county, 
the two boys who had been in prison at Ironton, 
came in, and related to us that the guards who per 
mitted them to escape, told them all about the con 
tract they had entered into with me. Those Fed 
erals deserve much credit for keeping their word. 



Took seven men. Went to Negro Wool Swamp. Attacked 
fifteen or twenty Federals. A running fight. Killed three. 
Killed Crane. Betrayed by a Dutchman. Hemmed in a 
house by Federals. Fight and escape. Killed eight sold 
iers. Caught and hung the Dutchman. 

Concluding to take a trip to Negro-Wool Swamp, 
I selected seven good men, and struck out; making 
our way slowly, we visited our Southern friends, 
and passed off the time very pleasantly with them. 
We made but few miles a day until nearing the 
point to which we had started, the object of our 
trip being to take in a couple of very noisy Union 
men, for the purpose of giving them a nice necktie 
of our own make, manufactured from the textile fa 
bric of nature s own production that we occasion 
ally stripped from the thrifty young hickories in the 
shady woods. But while we were on the lookout 
for them, a scout of Yankees, fifteen or twenty in 
number, came into the neighborhood, and we con 
cluded to let the two meddlesome Unionists rest for 
the present and to give the Federals a chase. We 
ascertained their exact locality, and at sundown I 
gave one of them a dead shot from old " Kill-devil," 
which was all that was necessary to give them a 
start, and I assure you it was "a running start." 

Seeing the course they took, we knew that they 


were bound for Bloomfield, so we mounted and 
started in pursuit 5 but they knew so well who was 
after them that they gave us no show for a fight ; 
however, being much better acquainted with the 
country than they were, I made my way, with one 
of my men, across on a nearer route, and got in 
ahead of them, while my other boys kept up the 
chase. We did not beat them much, for when we 
had gained the point, we heard them coming at full 
speed, and as they passed, we both fired at the same 
time ; only one man fell, and as " old Kill-devil" was 
in the habit of tearing a tolerable large hole, we had 
no dispute about who did it. From there on to 
within a few miles of Bloomfield, our chase was in 
vain; a streak of greased lightning could hardly 
have caught them. Knowing that a considerable 
force would now be sent out into the vicinity of 
Negro-Wool Swamp to clear that country of bush 
whackers, we concluded not to return to that place, 
but wound our way around south of Bloomfield, and 
ran suddenly on to a man by the name of Crane, for 
whom one of Capt. Bolin s men had been hunting 
for more than a year; as he was not along, and we 
were acting as a band of brothers, I took it upon 
myself 1,o shoot the fowl. After having done so, we 
made our way into Wayne county, where we re 
mained several days, enjoying the rich luxuries 
placed at our disposal by our friends in that coun 
try. We then took a scout on Black river, and 
stopped with a German, who had always professed 
great friendship for us, and who, on this occasion, 


greeted us very warmly, and seemed to put himself 
to a great deal of inconvenience to make us com 
fortable; he stood watch for us, as usual, while we 
slept in an unoccupied house. Our minds being 
free from suspicion, we slept quite soundly for three 
or four hours, but I was aroused by the sound of 
horses feet; and by the time I had awakened my 
men, and made ready for our escape, we were com 
pletely surrounded. Through a crack I took a hasty 
peep, and saw our old friend, the German, on horse 
back and in the line of the Federal soldiers. 

At this juncture, two of my men were in favor of 
surrendering; I answered by telling them to follow 
me. There being a dense forest in front of the 
house, not more than one hundred and fifty yards 
off, I made for it in my fleetest manner, holding my 
gun in my left hand and my revolver in my right; I 
would have killed the Dutchman as I ran, but he 
was on the opposite side of the house ; a whole vol 
ley was fired at us as we went, killing one of my 
men and wounding two more slightly, but not suf 
ficiently to disable them from duty, and giving me 
four very slight wounds. As we passed out, we 
fired two or three shots a piece with our revolvers, 
killing two of their horses, and wounded one man 
seriously in the face. 

On gaining the woods we felt very well over our 
narrow escape, and made our way for a gap in the 
bluff, about half a mile off, through which we. knew 
the Federals could not easily ride ; we gained the 
point, stopped to rest ourselves, and reloaded our pis- 



tols ; after which we made our way to the top of the 
bluff, and discovered through the thick brush, at a 
distance of not more than two hundred yards, the 
Federals approaching slowly and cautiously toward 
us. I gave my men orders to fire in the same order 
in which they lay, that is for our extremes to fire on 
theirs, so that no two men would fire at the same 

When fairly within gun shot I gave the word and we 
1 fired ; four of them fell dead, and one fellow, badly 
wounded, broke down the hill calling loudly on the 
name of the Lord. Our rifles were quickly reloaded 
and we followed cautiously after them in the direc 
tion of our friend s house where we came so near 
being taken in ; on gaining the edge of the woods 
we discovered them sitting on their horses, near the 
house from which we had escaped. They seemed 
to be holding a council of war ; one of them who 
had on shoulder-straps, appeared to be making a 
speech. The distance being about one hundred and 
fifty yards some of my men objected to shooting, but 
I answered by giving the word slowty, "ready, aim, 
fire !" At the discharge of our rifles, four of them 
fell, and the gentleman with shoulder-straps was 
helped from his horse. At this juncture, they began 
to form themselves into about twenty different lines, 
with only one abreast, each man being in advance, 
and each one bringing up his own rear. It was a 
novel military position, a kind of "nix cumrous, but 
it worked well and in almost an instant they seemed 
to be spirited away, and we saw no more oi them 


We made our way down Black river about two 
miles and camped for the night, and the next morn 
ing about sunrise I went to the house of a friend, 
who lived back in the woods to obtain provisions for 
my men. He told me that the Federals had left for 
Greenville immediately after our second round at 
them, and had given orders to some citizens to bury 
their dead, and on the following day to send the 
horses to Patterson, which they left in their care, 
and which included those they had captured from 
us ; at which place they would meet them with a 
large force and proceed to exterminate the Bush 

I obtained what provisions we wanted and has 
tened back to camp. After eating we hurried over 
to the Patterson road, selected a good position, and 
waited impatiently for the men to come along with 
the horses. About ten o clock in the forenoon an 
old man about sixty years of age, and three little boys 
came slowly along with them. After they had ap 
proached sufficiently near, we stepped out and I 
addressed the old man in a very friendly manner, 
and stated our business, at which he made some seri 
ous objections, remarking as he removed his old cob- 
pipe, that it was rather against hie orders, " to de 
liver the horses up to Sam Hildebrand." As the old 
man gave the horses up, I could easily perceive a 
smile of secret satisfaction lurking about his face. 
The little boys, however, were badly scared, smd 
seemed to realize the fact that Sam Hildebrand had 
them. We took possession of the horses, fourteen in 


number, and according to previous arrangements, 
five of the boys struck for Green county, Arkansas, 
with them, while one of them stayed with me, on 
foot, for the purpose of killing the German who had 
betrayed Us, and thus came so near having us taken 
in, and who had caused one of the bravest men in 
the Southern Confederacy, to be killed. After send 
ing the old man and the boys away I took leave of 
my men, and with my comrade repaired to a neigh 
boring hill, rested and slept by turns, until near 

From the position we occupied I had a fair view 
of the surrounding country, and particularly the 
main road leading to Patterson. But during the day 
all was quiet, save when a citizen would occasion 
ally pass along the road. 

As night approached we became restless from in 
action, and before the sun had shed its last rays up 
on the neighboring hills we were on our way to the 
scene of our tragedy the day before. 

Arriving there before it was entirely dark we took 
our position in the fence corner near the house, and 
here we lay in silent impatience until the gray hor 
izon warned us that our watch for the present was 
ended. We quietly retired to the house of a friend 
for our breakfast, not having eaten anything ex 
cept a piece of corn bread since the morning be 
fore. Having partaken heartily of our friend s rough 
but substantial fare, we again repaired to the house 
of our treacherous German enemy, having sworn in 
our wrath to take his life before leaving the country, 


and succeeded in gaining a position within one 
hundred yards of his house and directly in front of 
the door. Here we remained all day, during which 
time the family seemed to be discharging their do 
mestic duties very cheerfully. About four o clock 
in the afternoon two strange men rode up to the 
house and held a conversation with the lady for sev 
eral minutes and then rode off in the direction they 
came, this gave us some hope that the Dutchman 
would soon be at home, It was evident that as he 
had left with the Federals the day before in their 
retreat, and in great haste, that he had made no ar 
rangements for a long absence ; and it was more 
than probable that those two men only came to see 
whether or not the way was clear. We felt indeed 
that our most sanguine expectations were soon to 
be realized; but the hour passed slowly on; we 
changed our position after dark to a place in the 
fence corner, near the woodpile, and here we re 
mained until the night was half spent. Then we 
were made glad by the sound of horses feet coming 
from the direction of Patterson; as the sound came 
nearer we could easily perceive that the noise was 
made by only one horse. 

Advancing slowly, the Dutchman approached the 
house, alighted at the woodpile and tied his horse 
to the end of one of the limbs within a few feet of 
us. Just then we arose and demanded his surrender. 
The old fellow was very badly alarmed and called 
alternately on the Almighty and Mr. Hildebrand for 
mercy ; but I gave him to understand that it was 


useless for him to beg for mercy; that he was a 
prisoner and that we expected to take him to head 
quarters as a prisoner of war. His wife came out to 
the fence immediately on his arrival, and it was her 
presence alone that prevented us from shooting him 
on the ground. 

I guarded him while my comrade went to the sta 
ble-to look for another horse; but finding nothing 
there but an old mule, he came back leading it with 
a blind bridle. 

I requested the lady to loan me a saddle, and she 
soon returned with her own side saddle, and re 
marked that it was the only saddle on the place. I 
told her I could not rob a lady ; to keep the saddle, 
and that I was sorry from my heart to be com 
pelled to give her uneasiness or trouble; that war 
had no mercy, and that through it all I hoped that 
she would be protected from harm. 

We tied the old man s hands behind him, and then 
tied him on the mule without any saddle; at which 
the mule humped up his back, gave us a specimen 
of mule melody on a base note that re-echoed 
among the hills, and then became more quiet. We 
started on leading the horse and mule, but we had 
to stop several times to let the mule finish braying, 
for he would not budge an inch until he got entirely 
through. We went about a mile and then proceeded 
to hang the Dutchman. He spoke only once and 
then the mule chimed in, and before he had finished, 
the Dutchman^was swinging to a limb. To render 
his duplicity still more apparent, it should be borne 


in mind that he was now completely dressed in Fed 
eral uniform, having probably enlisted during his 
absence. Previous to the hanging, we had taken 
from him his pocket book and a revolver. 

We now mounted the horse and mule, and went 
on about two miles, stopped at the house of a friend 
and called for something to eat. Our friend, on 
hearing what had taken place, plead manfully for 
the lady whom we had so lately made a widow, sta 
ting that she was a good woman, recounted many 
good deeds she had performed, and finished by add 
ing that she would now be entirely dependent on the 
charity of the community for support, and insisted 
on us having the horse and mule sent back. 

We readily consented to this, and told him also 
that we would much rather she had the pocket book 
also, for on counting the money we found that it 
contained forty dollars. 

No one could deliver the mule, horse and money 
to her without being considered in some measure 
implicated. Finally it was agreed for our friend 
to take the horse and mule back while it was yet 
night ; to leave them near the premises and to throw 
the pocket book over the gate into the yard. All 
things being arranged we started on foot for our 
homes in Arkansas, and arrived there safely. 



Took eight men. Attacked a Federal camp near Bellinger s 
Mill at night. Lost two men killed and one wounded. 
His men return to Arkansas. He went alone to St. Francis 
county. Watched the farm of R. M. Cole to kill him. Was 
checked by conscience. 

I remained two weeks at home plowing, and then 
went on a scout to the vicinity of Mingo Swamp 
with eight men. We watched around for several 
days to capture some infamous.scamps in that coun 
try who had been giving our friends trouble from 
the beginning of the war. Being too cowardly to 
go into the army, they were staying at home and 
were constantly annoying peaceable citizens by 
making false reports against them of every kind. 

Having failed to get any of them, we concluded 
to make another trip over onto Castor Creek, for my 
men were always anxious to go to parts of the coun 
try frequented by the Federals. We had been on 
Castor but one day and night when a party of Fed 
erals came along, making their way through the 
country, and camping within a short distance of 
Bellinger s Mill. We were quietly enjoying our 
selves in the nook of rocky range of brushy hills 
when a runner came to inform us of the fact. Of 
the exact number of the Federals he did not know. 

It was with some difficulty that I restrained my 


men to wait until a proper hour of the night before 
making the attack, but finally about ten o clock I 
gave the word to get ready, which was done in a 
very few minutes. Going around the hills we 
struck the main road about a mile from their camp. 
We rode very slowly until we routed the pickets, 
then dashed on and crowded them into camp; but 
the locality of their camp and the position in which 
they had taken up quarters, had not been stated to 
us correctly; consequently we came oat somewhat 

They had chosen a narrow place in the road, and 
had turned their wagons across it, so that in our at 
tempt to dash through their camp, as was our cus 
tom, we found our progress suddenly stopped ; this 
bothered us so badly that they opened a heavy fire 
on us, killing two of my men and wounding another 
slightly before we had time to retreat. We were 
not certain of having killed any of them, but were 
afterwards told by a citizen that we wounded three, 
one of whom died next morning. After this unfor 
tunate mistake my remaining men wanted to go 
back to Green county, Arkansas, where our wound 
ed companions could be properly cared for ; to which 
I consented, and bidding them adieu I started alone 
to St. Francois county, Missouri. 

I now thought this a favorable opportunity to 
take vengeance upon R. M. Cole for the course he 
had taken at the time my brother Frank was hung by 
the Big river mob. That matter had never yet been 
redressed, and my mind was yet harrassed by con- 


Hiding impressions concerning his guilt or inno 
cence in the matter. That he. was a Southern man 
I very well knew, but that it was his duty, as a civil 
officer, to wrest my brother from the clutches of a 
merciless mob I knew equally well. I will here re 
mark that all my evil impressions concerning his 
complicity in the hanging of my brother have long 
since been entirely removed from my mind ; but at 
time of which I am now writing, I finally adopted 
the unwelcome conclusion that he was evidently 
guilty. I escaped the vigilance of my enemies, and 
of the hundreds of soldiers whose especial duty it 
was to watch out forme; and unobserved by any 
one who would be likely to inform against me, I 
succeeded in reaching his farm, on Flat river, and 
found to my joy that he had not yet finished plow 
ing. 1 went around to the back part of the farm, 
hitched old Charley to a sapling in the woods, and 
taking old "Kill-devil" in my hand, I cautiously ap 
proached the cornfield where I had seen him plow 
ing from a distance, and about sunset I secreted 
myself in a fence corner about ten rows from where 
he had plowed the last furrow. I waited until I be 
came satisfied that he had stopped for the night. 
It was now about dark. 

I went back to where I had hitched my horse, un 
saddled him and went in search of feed. I soon 
found an abundance of oats already cut in the field. 
On my way back I chanced to cross a splendid 
melon patch; on the ripe melons 1 made out my 
Supper, feeling thankful for my good luck so far. 


My only chance now was to wait until morning, 
which I did, making myself as comfortable as pos 
sible during the night. 

In the morning I took my station again in the 
fence corner with old "Kill-devil" already cocked 
After a long delay, as I thought it, he made his ap 
pearance, following along behind the plow and sing 
ing most merrily. I was a little frustrated by his 
merry mood, and a strange weakness kept me from 
firing. I thought I would let him plow one more 
round. How I chuckled to myself as he walked de 
liberately away from me as if nothing was about to 
go wrong with him. He came around again as 
merrily as before. I once more raised old "Kill-devil" 
to my face and was in the act of pulling the trigger, 
when I heard a stick crack in the woods just as he 
was turning. This and some other imaginary noises 
caused me to delay until he was too far off to make 
a sure shot. Here was a good chance lost. This I 
thought would never do, for I was now becoming 
quite nervous; I bit my fingers as I usually do to 
stop what hunters call the "buck ague," but it 
seemed to do me no good. 

The more I thought of the matter, the more 
nervous I got, and 1 must acknowledge that I never 
felt that way before when I was in a just cause, and 
a thought struck me that there might be something 
wrong in this matter after all. I knew that it would 
never do to remain squatting in the fence corner 
any longer; that I must either shoot or leave. 

Dan it be possible that he is innocent of the charge 


brought against him by my friends, and that my 
suspicions are groundless? 

It may be so ! I began to think about letting the 
man live ; but the thought of riding several hundred 
miles for the express purpose of killing a man, and 
then to go back without doing it, after having had 
such a good chance, was a thought that I did not 

While these thoughts were revolving in my mind 
I still set as quietly as a mouse. Once I would have 
got up and left; but the man was now making his 
third round, and was too close for me to do so with 
out being seen. I deliberately raised my gun and 
took a bead on him to make my decision while he 
was completely in my power "live on, sir ! live on!" 
was my decision, and as soon as he turned I hastily 
left for fear of being tempted again. I mounted my 
horse, and as soon as I thought he was out of sight 
among the corn I rode away, and never before in my 
life did I feel so happy as I did when I passed oppo 
site the row he was in. I bade him a silent farewell, 
and mentally told him to rest easy, for that he never 
should be hurt by iny hand. 

On my homeward trip I stopped in the vicinity of 
Bloomfield (which was still in the hands of the 
Federals) in order to pay my respects to Captain 
Hicks. He was the commander of the company 
which followed me and my family to the St. Francis 
river; and boasted that he was the man who shot 
me at the Flat Woods. Not being disposed to rob 
him of his honors, I was willing to admit that 


he did the act, and to govern myself accordingly. 

I lay around his residence four days and nights, 
getting my provisions out of his smoke-house, be 
fore he made his appearance. 

On the evening of the fourth day he rode up to his 
house, and in a few minutes walked out with his wife 
into the garden. 

I walked up to the garden fence and spoke to him; 
he seemed agitated and started toward the house ; I 
raised my gun, halted him, and told him to come to 
me as I wanted to talk a little to him. He halted 
and with some reluctance walked toward me, and on 
getting within a few paces he asked me who I was. 
I told him that I was Sam Hildebrand ; that I under 
stood he had been hunting for me for some time, 
and I thought I would come by and see what he 
wanted. At this he made a lick at me with a hoe 
which he held in his hand, and came very near hit 
ting me ; but in a moment I ended his existence by 
shooting him. I eluded all search and effected my 
escape to Arkansas. 



Trip to Hamburg with fifteen men. Hung a Dutchman and 
shot another. Attacked some Federals in Hamburg, but got 
gloriously whipped. Retreated to Coon Island. Return to 
St. Francis river. Killed Oiler at Flat Woods. Robbed 
Bean s store at Irondale. 

About the middle of August, 1863, at the solici 
tation of two brave boys who had kindly assisted 
me on several trips to St. Francois county, and ex 
pected my assistance in return, I started to a small 
place called Hamburg; with fifteen men under my 

We wished to take in three or four .Dutchmen who 
had given the relatives of my two men a great deal 
of trouble, causing them to be robbed, and in some 
instances imprisoned. 

We crossed into Butler county, and then into 
Stoddard; passing south and east of Bloomfield, we 
crossed Little river abo^e Buffington, and entered 
Scott county. By traveling altogether in the night 
we created no disturbance until we got near the 
point to which we were aiming. 

About ten o clock in the forenoon we rode up and 
surro unded the house of one of the men whom we 
were a fter. He recognized us as Union soldiers and 
came out without being called. He commenced ad. 
dressing us in Dutch, but I told him that we did not 


belong to that persuasion; he then began speaking 
broken English and still advanced toward us. When 
in the act of extending his hand toward one of ray 
men who was nearest to him, he suddenly c^scovered 
his unfortunate mistake, and called to his wife who 
was yet in the house. The whole family came out, 
placed themselves in a group near us and implored 
us in broken English to spare their father. To the 
bottom of my heart I cursed the man who first in 
vented war; but as war on one side and mercy on 
the other would only lead to death, we marched our 
Dutchman off about a mile and hung him to a lean 
ing tree. About one hour afterwards we came to 
the house of another of those cunning informers ; 
he broke out at a back door and ran so fast that we 
all had to fire before we brought him down. 

We now pushed on to get a couple more who 
lived at Hamburg, but on entering the place we 
were met by a volley of musket shots which made 
our ears ring. One of my men was killed on the 
spot, at which we charged the enemy, seeing that 
their numbers were only about twelve. They took 
refuge behind an old dilapidated frame house; and 
while I placed some of my men in positions to com 
mand both ends of the building, others marched up 
to the front of the house and set it on fire. 

By this time the shooting had attracted the atten 
tion of other Federals in the vicinity, who came to 
the rescue, and before we were aware of their pre 
sence we were nearly surrounded. We made a dash 
to clear their lines, and in the attempt four of my 


men were badly wounded, but none of them killed. 

I began to think that I had met with more than 
our match, for as we retreated they followed us in a 
solid phalanx. Our horses were put to the utmost 
of their speed, our wounded were left behind, the 
chase after us was gloriously exciting; we probably 
gained a little after we had gone about two miles, 
but they did not by any means give up the chase, 
for we were not allowed to enjoy anything that had 
the least resemblance (o peace and tranquility, un 
til we had gained Little river and swam across to 
Coon Island. We lost nearly everything we had ex 
cept our horses and they were badly injured; some 
of my men lost their guns, and others lost every bit 
of fight that they formerly had in them. The Fed 
erals made no attempt to cross the river, but left us 
to brood over the sad result of our rash and incon 
siderate adventure. The whole matter looked to me 
a great deal like a defeat, and I must confess that I 
viewed it rather in that light ; but if it had been the 
Army of the Potomac they would have called it " a 
strategic movement merely a change of base." 

We lost one man killed and four wounded, prison 
ers whom we supposed would be shot. In justice 
to General Steele, however, I can proudly say that 
in this case he did us more than justice by retaining 
our men as prisoners of war and treating them well. 
Their wounds were healed, and in three months they 
were exchanged and returned to our Green County 

On leaving: Coon Island we struck the St. Francis? 



river at Twelve Mile creek, and remained there 
several days recruiting our horses. Not wishing to 
be idle, I concluded that while my men and horses 
were resting, I would take a trip on foot to Flat 
Woods and pay my respects to George F. Oiler, who 
was so intent on bushwhacking me that he spent 
most of his time in the woods watching for my ap 
pearance on my accustomed routes. 

Aside from his many boisterous threats against 
me he was in the habit of marking out "Old Sam," 
as he called me, on trees and shooting at the figure 
at various distances. His vindictive spirit was not 
manifested against me alone, but even against the 
children of Southern sympathizers. At one time he 
went to St. Francis river where some Southern boys 
were in the habit of bathing, and at the high rock 
from which they were fond of plunging, he drove 
some cedar stakes and sharpened the upper ends 
which were just under the water. 

Fortunately when the boys next went there to 
bathe the water had fallen a few inches, and the 
ends of the stakes exposed so that the boys dis 
covered them before making the fatal leap. Oiler 
of course did all this for the patriotic motive of sub 
jugating the South; but the result was that the 
little boys were saved and the country lost. 

On arriving in the neighborhood I learned from a 
very kind German lady whom I happened to meet 
and who mistook me for a Federal, that the hunt 
for me was still going on. 

I learned also that Oiler s zeal for the good of the 


Union cause was not in the least abated by his 
many failures to hit my figure which he had cut on 
a large oak near his house, nor by his failure to kill 
the innocent children whom he was afraid would be 
Rebels at some future time. 

At night I went and inspected his premises, and 
before daylight I took my position; but the day 
passed off and he did not make his appearance* 
When night came I repaired to the house of a friend, 
obtained two days rations, returned to my ambush, 
and slept until the first peep of day. I was again 
doomed to disappointment; but on the third day, 
late in the evening, as I lay brooding over the many 
failures I had made to inflict justice upon those who 
were seeking my blood, Mr. Oiler made his appear 

He walked slowly up to the premises with his gun 
on his shoulders. On getting to a pig pen he got 
over the fence and commenced marking a pig. I 
shot him through and hastily left the place; oa 
gaining the top of a small hill a few hundred yards 
off, I heard the pig squealing, for Mr. Oiler had 
fallen across it, and it was not able to extricate 
itself from the trap. 

On getting back to my men I selected five of them 
to go with me, and permitted the rest to return to 

As soon as it was dark I started with my five men 
for Irondale, on the St. Louis and Iron Mountain 

after dark on one evening in the early part 


of September, we entered the town. We saw no sold 
iers in the streets, and no one else, except Dr. Pos- 
ton, a citizen of the place. We compelled him to 
knock at the door of Bean s store and ask for admit 
tance ; when this was done w r e entered without any 
trouble, took all the goods we could conveniently 
pack, and returned to Arkansas by the way of Black 



Started with six men for Springfield, Missouri. Deceived by 
a Federal Spy. Was captured through mistake by Rebels, 
Surprised on Panther creek. Returned home on foot. 

I was under obligations to assist some of my boys 
in a trip to the neighborhood from which they had 
been driven, in return for their services on several 
of my trips. 

About the middle of September, after having only 
rested about a week, I started with six men from 
near Springfield, Missouri, to make a raid in the vi 
cinity of that city. Not being acquainted with the 
country over which we designed traveling, I had 
but little to say in regard to the programme of our 
intended raid. After our plans were arranged, we 
started, taking with us "neither purse nor scrip," 
for we intended to rely altogether on our good for 
tune for our supplies. 

From Green county, Ark., we traveled through 
Randolph and entered Missouri in Ripley county. 
Here we were detained, for one of my men had the 
misfortune to lose his horse. Having reached a 
part of the country known as the Irish Wilderness, 
we concluded to rest a day and hunt. 

In the evening before we struck camp, a young 
man, dressed in citizen s clothes, who claimed to be 
going to the Rebel army, joined us, and asked per- 


mission to stop with us until morning. He professed 
to be going to Arkansas, and we readily consented 
to entertain him as best we could. 

After the confusion incident to striking camp, 
making fires, attending to our horses, etc., was over, 
our new companion began a series of interrogatories 
relative to the part of country through which we 
had operated, since the beginning of the war. After 
having posted him thoroughly in regard to the field 
of our operations, we related to him many thrilling 
incidents and daring adventures connected with our 
history ; to all of which he listened with intense in 
terest, and at the amusing parts of our story he 
laughed most heartily. After we grew tired of re 
lating our many dangerous feats and bloody deeds, 
he began his narrative of hair breadth escapes and 
heroic adventures. The field of his operations hav 
ing been Kentucky, we were very pleasantly enter 
tained by receiving the full accounts of several in 
cidents of which we had heard some rumors. 

We had scarcely marked the transition from twi 
light to Egyptian darkness, so much were we 
pleased with our new companion s pleasant stories, 
when one of my men remarked that " the last hour 
of the day was melting away into the eventful past." 
Our programme for the day following had been 
made by our new comrade, and heartily approved 
by us all, that we would take an old fashioned deer 
hunt, among the wild hills surrounding us. 

Our quiet slumbers were scarcely disturbed even 
by the intermission of rolling over, until " Old Sol " 


was looking us fair in the face, as if to read the guilt 
of our hearts. 

Upon awakening, one word loudly spoken, was 
sufficient to bring the whole squad to a half recum 
bent position ; and as we went through the antiqua 
ted performance of rubbing our eves, the attention 
of each one seemed to be turned to the spot where 
our new comrade had deposited himself for a sleep 
a few hours before. He was gone 1 The fragment 
of an old log, that had served him as a pillow, was 
all that was left of him or his bed. But this was 
not all; one of our best horses was gone! We 
cared but little for the horse, so far as his real value 
was concerned, for we had some experience in 
" raising horses," and knew that we could get 
another on very easy terms, but we did not like the 
idea of having been gulled by a young adventurous 
loyalist, in the face of the fact, too, that we consid 
ered ourselves " shark proof/ 

Neither were we certain that our misfortunes 
would end here, for our " sharper " had succeeded 
in getting our plans for the entire trip. 

During the preparation of our morning meal, the 
subject of our misfortune was freely discussed, with 
many conjectures in regard to who our deceiver 
was, and the probable result of his acquired infor 

A. majority of the men were in favor of continuing 
our journey, while only one man joined me in op 
posing any further movement in the direction of 


However, as it was not my own trip, I did not feel 
at liberty to say much about it ; not wishing to ap 
pear obstinate, I contented myself with making 
them a "humbug" speech, for I must confess that 
the recollection of our unfortunate adventure at that 
place, seemed as though it would haunt me to the 
grave. All my arguments, however, did no good, 
the} would not be convinced against their own 
will ; so I submitted cheerfully to the good old 
democratic rule of going with the majority. 

During the day, myself and two others, rode over 
to the edge of the settlements to get a horse for our 
pedestrian " bushwhacker," and succeeded in find 
ing one ; but the owner was a noted Rebel ; our only 
way to sustain ourselves in the act was to pass our 
selves off for Union soldiers, this we did with a very 
good grace and got the horse without any resistance. 
In fact, he made but little objection, for he knew 
that the "Union savers" were terrible when irritated. 

After going back two or three miles toward our 
camp in the Wilderness, I saw some deer on the side 
of an adjoining hill, and fearing that the boys in 
camp had failed to kill meat for our supper, selected 
a nice buck and shot him dead on the spot. 

After having dressed the meat preparatory to car 
rying it into camp, we concluded to build afire and 
broil some of it for our dinner. While we were thus 
busily engaged, all squatted around the fire, we 
were suddenly saluted by a remarkably boisterous 
mandate of " surrender !" at which we sprang to our 
feet with our revolvers in our hands to find our- 


selves confronted by five of Capt. Bolin s men, who 
had left Green county, Arkansas, a few days before 
us, and were on a visit to see some friends in the 
neighborhood, from one of whom we had taken the 
horse. We had anything else rather than a fight, 
for we quickly recognized each other, and a general 
congratulation was the only military demonstration 
between us. 

The five " bushwhackers " were concealed near 
the house of the old Rebel from whom we had taken 
the horse, and who had really regarded us as Fed 
erals. As soon as we had left his house, he reported 
us to Capt. Bolin s men, who took our trail and 
tracked us to the wild solitudes of the Irish Wilder 
ness. We at once decided on changing our quar 
ters. I sent my two comrades to the camp and had 
the boys to move over to the edge of the settle 
ments. The old Rebel, from whom wo had taken 
the horse, was our best friend; we gaire it back to 
Siim, and got another in that neighborhood on the 
following night. 

The reader, without making any very extravagant 
draw upon his imagination, can conclude that we 
had a jolly time when we all got together. 

Our adventure with the sharper, my attempt to 
steal the old Rebel s hrse, and our unconditional 
surrender in the Wilderness while broiling the veni 
son, were the subjects discussed. From the boys, 
we learned something more of our adventurous 
Yankee detective. He had been in that neighbor 
hood a week or two, repeating the same story that 


lie had told us. He evidently thought that the 
bushwhackers were rather thick in that neighbor 
hood, and concluded to leave it as quick as possible. 
On the following morning, our whole party, with 
myself, took up our march for Springfield, and in 
the evening of the same day we reached the vicin 
ity of Thomasville, in Oregon county. We were 
warned against traveling in the day time, unless we 
were hunting for a fight ; we assured our friends that 
a fight was the least of our desire at the present 
time, the object of our trip being solely for the pur 
pose of enabling some of our boys to avenge certain 
wrongs received at the hands of Union men in 

Greene county, Missouri. , 

^ ^^~ "" \ 

After rrijalTing a tolerable heavy draw ok some of 

our Rebel friends for provisions and horseYeed, we 
again resujmed our journey, and the following morn 
ing found us in the woods, quartered for the day, 
near a small town in Howell county, called Lost 
Gamp, where we remained all day. 

A substantial old friend living near by, brought 
us two or three bottles of " burst-head," which pro 
duced the effect of making some of the boys be 
lieve that they had fought a great battte, and that 
the United States Government had taken refuge in 
a deep cavern, the mouth of which they had stop 
ped with a large ilat rock, on top of which the boys 
were dancing. The only question with them seemed 
to be what they would do with their twenty millions 
of prisoners. 

When sable night again clad the wicked world in 


half mourning, we resumed our journey, and on ap 
proach of day, we were in the beautiful little town 
of Vera Cruz, in Douglas county ; on the next night 
we reached Panther creek, in Webster county. One 
of our men who professed to be acquainted in that 
neighborhood, went to a pretended Rebel friend to 
get supplies, but the old fellow flatly refused to give 
him anything. I was a little amused at the disap 
pointment of the boys, and at the dilemma in which 
they were placed. I could not help thinking how 
different I would have acted on a raid of my own. 

About ten o clock in the forenoon we were sur 
prised by a party of Federal soldiers, numbering 
perhaps about sixty men. Before we were aware 
of their presence they charged upon us at a most 
furious rate, yelling and shooting at us most fear 
fully. A mere glance at the party was sufficient to 
convince me that an attempt at resistance would be 
worse than folly. I sprang to my feet, yelled out 
to the boys to run; but having no time to mount 
our horses, we had to depend upon our own fleet- 
ness for our escape. In our retreat through the 
dense forest, we had the advantage over our ene 
mies ; I and four others managed to keep together 
for about a mile ; not seeing any pursuers, we took 
our position on a high hill, and remained there un 
til late in the evening. While keeping a vigilant 
watch over the surrounding country, we discovered 
one of our men emerging cautiously from a denso 
thicket in the valley at the foot of the hill. 

He seemed terribly frightened. I made my way 


down the hill to within a hundred yards of him, and 
then called him by name ; but it was some time be 
fore he recognized me. Fortunately for us, this man 
was acquainted with the country through which we 
would have to pass in making our way back to Ar 
kansas. The tops of the highest hills were yet bask 
ing in the sun s last lingering rays, when we started 
on our perilous journey of two hundred miles on 
foot, without any blankets, provisions, or anything 
else, except our pistols and one gun, for I had made 
my escape with old " Kill-devil " in my hand. The 
next morning about daylight, we ran into a gang of 
sheep, succeeded in catching one, and made our 
way down into a deep ravine, where we could not 
be discovered. There we built a fire and fared 
sumptuously. We continued on during the night, 
and the next day I killed a deer. On the following 
night we reached our friend near Yera Cruz, and 
here we met another one of our boys, but he was no 
better posted in regard to the fate of our company 
than myself. 

I will not weary the patience of my reader by de 
tailing the many privations incident to our trip ; suf 
fice it to say that we did get back to Arkansas ; and 
that fortunately for me I never received an invita 
tion to take another trip to Springfield under the 
command of an unexperienced leather-head. 

About a week after arriving in camp, another one 
of the boys came in, looking somewhat subjugated. 
I afterwards learned that two of our men were 
killed when we were routed, and that the others 


were taken prisoners, none of whom ever returned 
during the war. 

I have cautioned the boys never again to imagine 
themselves dancing on the flat rock covering the 
prison door of the defunct Yankee nation, lest they 
might unexpectedly find some of them yet running 
at large. 



Started with four men. Surrounded in a thicket near Predericktown. 
Escaped with the loss of three horses. Stole horses from the Federals 
at night. K.lled two Federal Soldiers. Suffered from hunger. Killed 
Fowler, Got a horse from G. W. Murphy. Went to Mingo Swamp. 
"-Killed Cootu for betraying him, Killed a soldier and lost two men, 

I selected four good men and started on another 
trip to St. Fraacois county, Missouri, on the 10th of 
November. We traveled altogether in the night ; 
arriving in the vicinity of Fredericktown about mid 
night, we stopped at the house of a well-known 
friend, who expressed a great deal of surprise at see 
ing us there, stating that the cry of " Hilde brand," 
had been raised ia the community abouc ten days 
previous, and that the Federals, with the assistance 
of citizens, had been scouting the woods between 
that place and Farmington ever since. He was no 
little amused when we told him that the report 
was utterly false, and that we were on a scout out 
westward at the time. 

The report of my having been in that part of the 
country ten days previous, I was satisfied would 
work favorably to the success of our present enter 
prise, for it was not probable that they would make 
another search so soon after having made one so 


From there we went to a dense thicket near the 
residence of Mr. North, and being very tired and 
sleepy, we lay down, and slept very soundly until 
the morning sun was looking down upon our quiet 
retreat. Our old friend had supplied us with two 
days rations and some shelled corn for our horses, 
so we had a complete outfit for a good rest. 

Whilst lying lazily around our horses, planning 
the future of our trip, we were suddenly startled by 
the sound of a gun near by, which was evidently 
discharged at one of us. A moment, however, was 
sufficient to satisfy me in regard to the nature of the 
case; we had been spied out, our horses tracked up, 
and our thicket surrounded. At a bound I lit in my 
saddle and was soon out of the thicket in an oppo 
site direction from where the gun was fired. On 
reaching the open ground, I discovered the Federals 
coming around the woods, not having yet completed 
their circle. They fired on me, but the distance 
was too great, and I remained unhurt. My men had 
not taken time to mount their horses, but as they 
followed me on foot, one of them received a bruise 
on his back from a spent ball. In a few minutes 
our complete escape was effected, with no damage 
but the loss of four good horses. The Federals fol 
lowed us closely for about a mile, when we got far 
enough ahead to give them the dodge by turning at 
right angles into the St. Francis river bottom. We 
made our way back to within a mile of Frederick- 
town, where we remained the rest of the day. When 

night came we went in quest of our pursuers ; we 


found them camped in a lane about six miles north 
west from Fredericktown. 

Our object now was to get horses. We made our 
way on foot toward them, but found that the end of 
the lane was guarded; we went around to the other 
end and found it guarded also, while the horses 
were in the middle, tied to one of the fences. We 
then went around through the field, laying down 
the outside fence very carefully, and approached 
the lane fence on the opposite side from where the 
horses were tied. The night was very dark, but we 
could distinctly see a sentinel slowly walking his 
beat of about fifty yards, ourselves being at the end 
of the beat. When his back was turned, I laid the 
fence down easily ; we sprang to a horse a piece, 
cut the halters, mounted, and were off at full speed 
before he turned on the other end of his beat. 

Our hasty flight of course raised an alarm in the 
camp, but we saw no more of the Federals that 
night. Being again mounted, we resolved to give 
them employment for a few days in hunting us, and 
for that purpose we took up our quarters in a place 
least expected, by going within a mile of Frederick- 
town onto a certain eminence, after having made 
a circuit around the side of a hill. 

On the following day we slept by turns ; I killed 
a pig with my knife near the house of a farmer, and 
cooked it in a deep ravine where the fire could not 
be observed; during the previous night we had 
stolen a sufficiency of feed for our horses. I con 
cluded to go into Fredericktown to get a supply of 


ammunition, which I did about ten o clock in the 
night, by meeting with an old friend there who 
bountifully supplied us with all we needed. 

We moved seven or eight miles in the direction 
of Pilot Knob, supplying ourselves with horse-feed 
and provisions on the move. 

When morning again made its appearance, I left 
my men in charge of the horses, and after instruct 
ing them where to meet me again in case of trouble, 
I went to the gravel road for the purp ose of killing 
a Federal or two. I concealed myself near the road, 
and about 10 o clock in the day, two came along 
and I let old " Kill-devil " off at one of them. They 
wheeled suddenly around and started back in the 
direction of Pilot Knob ; the one I shot was badly 
wounded and bled freely. Only an hour afterwards 
a squad of perhaps ten came from the direction of 
Fredericktown. It was a quandary in my mind 
whether it was best to take a pop at them or not, a 
feeling of revenge settled the matter. I fired, and 
one fell; at this they put their horses to full speed. 
Soon after they were out of sight, another came 
along in a very great hurry as if he was endeavor 
ing to overtake the others ; on coming up to the 
dead man he made a momentary halt, of which I 
took advantage and shot him through. I now con 
cluded that I had done enough for the day, or 
enough, at least, to raise an excitement, so I went 
back to my men and we moved about twelve miles 
in the direction of Farmington, and near the St. 
Francis river on a high bluff, which afforded us pe- 


culiar advantages in the event of a fight, where we 
were compelled to remain several days. 

My comrade, who had received a bruise on the 
sp;ne, had by this time become so disabled by that 
slight injury, that he could not ride. The little 
amusement that I had taken on the gravel road was 
now creating quite a stir in military circles, and 
their search for us was carried on with a zeal worthy 
of a better cause. 

Having called out the forces at Pilot Knob, Fred- 
ericktown and Farmington, with a large majority of 
the citizens, the search was made thoroughly and 
in earnest. Squads frequently passed in sight of us, 
and within easy gun-shot, but none of them as 
cended the high bluff we occupied. On the evening 
of the third day our provisions and horse-feed gave 
out, and e ach night I went out in search of more. 
Obtaining provender for our horses was a very easy 
matter, but getting provisions for ourselves was not 
only very difficult but extremely dangerous. I knew 
but few men in the neighborhood, and on approach 
ing their houses I invariably found our well-known 
signal of danger a towel hung on a nail outside of 
the door. We could easily have killed a hog or a 
sheep, but we could not run the risk of making a 
fire to cook it. After our provisions gave entirely 
out, we were twenty-four hours without any food. 
During the second night I found some bacon in 
somebody s smoke-house, I knew not whether he 
was a friend or foe, and cared still less, but I took 
two hams to camp, which we ate raw. 


On the sixth night our comrade was able to ride, 
and we moved about fifteen miles, stopping south 
of Fredericktown. Here a Mend supplied us with 
the necessaries of life, and even brought food to our 
camp ready cooked for our use. 

Our wounded companion, who was too much dis 
abled to take any part in a raid, now obtained leave 
to return to Arkansas alone, while I and my other 
men started on a trip to St. Francois county. 

While living at Flat Woods, I became acquainted 
with a man named John Fowler. He professed to 
be a strong Southern man, and having perfect con 
fidence in his veracity, I entrusted him with many 
things in regard to my plans, that I withheld from 
the rest of my neighbors ; but about the time that I 
was run off from there by the Federals, my friend 
Fowler joined the Union army. 

On receiving this intelligence, I felt much morti 
fied, and concluded at once that he had betrayed me, 
notwithstanding he sent me word on several oc 
casions that I need not fear him. His duplicity, 
however, was so apparent that I determined to kill 
him on sight; this I had some hope of doing, as 
he seemed to enjoy some liberties, and often came 
into the neighborhood, but generally in company 
with other soldiers. On every visit he came to my 
house and conversed pleasantly with my wife, but I 
regarded him rather as a spy. 

As we were traveling along on the present oc 
casion, I run suddenly on him about five miles 
southwest from Fredericktown. We met in a nar- 


row path, and before he hardly had time to recog 
nize me, I shot and killed him instantly. 

I will here state that I had cause to regret this 
act afterwards, for I ascertained that he had de 
serted the Federals, and was on his way South to 
join the " bushwhacking department " of the South 
ern army. 

After passing Fredericktown in the night, we 
learned that several companies of Federals, Home 
Guards and Militia, were hunting for me in every 
direction. In fact, we came near being discovered 
by several squads during the night. We hastened 
on into St. Francois county; Tom Haile and myself 
being in front, we took Farmington without firing a 
gun long before my other men came up. As we 
rode in the streets were full of people, but we only 
had time to take a second look when the place 
seemed to be entirely deserted. Not a man, woman 
or child could be found, at which Tom laughed 
heartily, and remarked that he thought cellar rent 
ought to be very high in that place. When my 
other men came up Tom told them that we had 
found a beautiful town not claimed by anybody, 
"just laying around loose," and that he was very 
sorry we could not take it along with us until we 
found an owner. We did not haunt the town very 
long with our unholy presence, but after going into 
a grocery, where we had to help ourselves, we took 
a hearty drink of some good old liquor that had 
been left by the generation that once lived there ; 
then mounting our horses we left the lonesome 


place. Tom remarked that as we had no wounded 
man to leave there to garrison the town we had bet 
ter leave for the "settlements." We went on to 
Big river to look after our old enemies ; but their 
consciousness of having committed such a cata 
logue of crimes against me made them the hardest 
men in the world to find. 

In our business of killing enemies, we met with 
good success everywhere but on Big river. Up to 
the time of the present writing, a majority of those 
miscreants, with hands dripping with the blood of 
my brothers, are yet permitted to live. For several 
days and nights we watched around the houses of 
my old enemies, but to no purpose ; it was impossi 
ble to find them. One of my men made his way 
around through the neighborhood to ascertain their 
whereabouts, and reported that they were all from 
home except Franklin Murphy ; but Tom Haile was 
determined that I should not kill him. He exacted 
a promise from me long ago that I never would mo 
lest him or any of his property. Haile was a man 
who wielded an influence over every one with whom 
he came in contact. He was ever in a perfect good 
humor; the clouds of adversity never seemed to 
throw a shadow on his brow ; his heart was all sun 
shine, and his feet ever trod in the vales of mirth 
and gladness. 

I plainly saw that so far as killing my old enemies 
was concerned my present trip was a failure. Dur 
ing all the incidents of my previous trips to Mis 
souri, I never ior once lost sight of that one leading 


object of my mind. The killing of Federals, in which 
I had taken such an active part, only afforded me 
pleasure by the reflection that they were a part and 
parcel of the same stripe, and in sympathy with the 
Big river vigilance mob. 

I was now much in need of a good horse, and af 
ter talking the matter over with my men, Tom Haile 
and myself concluded to demand a good horse, 
bridle and saddle, from G. W. Murphy, a man whose 
nature it was to be quiet and inoffensive, and who 
had attended strictly to his own business during all 
the struggle. 

He was abundantly able to assist us in the matter, 
and we considered that he ought to contribute that 
much toward the Southern cause. We were raised 
close together from boyhood, and I had nothin g 
against him ; but as he was well able to spare me a 
horse, I made the demand. He complied with the 
request after emerging (as I believe) from a barrel 
of feathers. His novel appearance caus ed Tom 
Haile, who was always fond of a joke, to tell him 
that he must not let Jim Craig see him in that con 
dition, or he might capture him for a spotted mule, 
which Murphy, in his good humored way, passed off 
very well. We also took a horse from Orville Mc- 
Ilvaine, who lived on the place known as the Baker 
farm. I had some anxiety to see him in order to 
make him break his well-known rule of never part 
ing with a greenback after it got into his safe ; but 
his retiring nature prompted him to conceal himself 
in the garret until we departed. We now rejoined 


the other boys and started back by the way of 
Mingo Swamp. Before we reached that place we 
were warned by our friends that the Federals were 
thick in that locality. About midnight we arrived 
at the house of William Coots (well-known as old 
Bill Coots,) who had heretofore invariably repre 
sented himself as a Rebel of unusual bitterness. In 
answer to our inquiries, he told us that there were 
no Federals in the neighborhood, neither had there 
been any for more than a month. He also told us 
that the men we wished to find were then at home. 
I felt very much gratified on hearing statements so 
favorable to the success of our enterprise, and re 
quested him to supply us with a few days rations 
and provender for our horses, while we camped at a 
certain point not more than half a mile distant. 

He readily consented, and gave us a very press 
ing invitation to come and take breakfast with him 
about sun up. To this we agreed, and at the time 
designated, we all left our camp and repaired to the 
house of our generous host, who received us with a 
great deal of what might be termed "Arkansas 
courtesy." It may be readily supposed that the 
scanty fattening process we had gone through while 
on the St. Francis bluff had produced a streak of 
lean running the whole length of our mortal bodies ; 
and that the odor from the kitchen, of coffee, ham 
and eggs, with other ingredients intermixed with 
spices, made us for a time forget all other things on 
these mundane shores. When breakfast was an 
nounced and we were about to seat ourselves at the 


table, old Coots remarked : " Here, gentlemen, you 
can lay your arms on the bed," but it was not our 
custom to take off our arms at any time, so we 
seated ourselves at the table with them on. We 
were perhaps about half done eating when a ragged 
looking Federal stepped up to the door, and in an 
exulting tone said: "Well, Coots! you got them, 
did you ?" and bawled out " surrender," at which I 
sprang from the table, drew my revolver and shot 
Coots, seized my gun which I had left near the door, 
and cleared the door by about fifteen feet; I shot a 
Federal with my revolver which I still held in my 
right hand, and in a few bounds gained the woods 
unhurt, save a slight wound on the back of my head. 
My men attempted to follow without their guns, 
two of them were killed in their attempt to escape, 
while the remaining one (Tom Haile,) soon got with 
me, and we made our way to our horses. Fortunate 
ly the Federals had not found them. We tarried 
awhile lor our comrades, but as they did not come 
up we were fearful that they were slain. Mounting 
our horses and leading theirs, we made our way to 
a canebrake about a mile off, and sent a citizen 
back to ascertain the real state of affairs. After 
taking an old bridle in his hand, he made his way 
over, inquiring of each person he met for a grey 
mare and a black colt. 

On passing the house of old Bill Coots he was 
halted, at which he did not seem to be the least 
alarmed, but expressed the utmost surprise when 
the whole tragedy was related to him. The worst 


part of the whole affair was that two of my men 
were killed and were lying at the time in front of 
the house. On receiving this news we started home 
to get a force sufficient to clean out the Federals, 
but on arriving in Green county, Arkansas, nearly 
all of our men were out on scouting excursions, 
principally toward the West. 



Took ten men. Went to Mingo Swamp. Went to Castor Creek. 
Medicine traffic. Attacked two companies of Federals under 
Capt. Cawhorn and Capt. Rhode? Fought them seven nights. 
Dick Cowan. Went with Capt. Reed s men. Attacked Capt. 
Leeper s Company. Killed fourteen and wounded eight. Cap 
tured forty-four guns, sixty pistols , forty horses and four hun 
dred dollars. 

On the 15th day of December, 1863, I started 
back to Mingo Swamp with ten men, and met with 
no obstacles on our route after swimming the St. 
Francis river. When we got into the neighborhood 
of the unfortunate tragedy of our previous trip, we 
ascertained from reliable sources that the Federals 
left ior Bloomfield on the day following th^ skirmish 
at old Bill Coots , and that the men we had been 
looking after so long had gone into the regular 


We visited the house of our newly made widow, 
Mrs. Coots, for the purpose of seeing the graves of 
my two brave boys. She confessed that Ooots had 
layed plans for my capture ; that the Federals were 
camped only one mile off at the time, and that after 
I had consented to come to his house for breakfast, 
he went to the Federal camp and notified them of 
the fact, and made arrangements to take me in. 
Finding no one in that vicinity to fight, we made 


our way over onto Castor creek to a well known 
friend, who had, since the beginning of the war, 
acted as an agent for us in receiving and forwarding 
supplies and medicines. Hearing of no Federals in 
that portion of the country, and there being no per 
sons in that quarter against whom we had enmity 
sufficient to induce us to invest any of our capital 
in bark or grape vines, we obtained the medicine 
sent to that place from Farmington, St. Francois 
county, Missouri, and started back for Mingo Swamp. 
On our way the monotony of our journey was sud 
denly relieved by seeing a Federal coming toward 
us, apparently riding very cautiously. We only got 
a glimpse of him as the road took him down into a 
small ravine out of our sight. We were very cer 
tain that he had not discovered us, so we got out of 
the road until he came up ; when we halted him he 
seemed very much frightened, but surrendered 

fle told us that he had been to Cairo, Illinois, to 
see his family, and was on his way back to his com 
mand at Fredericktown. Upon the whole he gave 
such a good account of himself that we only dis 
armed him and took his greenbacks, which, how 
ever, only amounted to twelve dollars. 

On the following night we heard of three more 
Rebel boys in the country and sent for them. After 
they agreed to try a trip with us, we left the drugs 
with a friend and went back onto Castor creek to 
watch for the Federals who were in the habit of 
passing tiiere on their road between Fredericktown 


and Cape Girardeau. We had been there but one 
night and day when we heard of two companies of 
Federals nearby commanded by Captains Cawhorn 
and Khoder. As soon as it was dark we proceeded 
to spy out their exact locality and take a look at 
the surroundings. We found from their position and 
numbers that it would be entirely unsafe to charge 
through their camp as was our custom, and con 
cluded to bushwhack them. During the night we 
killed twelve and wounded several more, as we were 
informed afterwards. When day again made its ap 
pearance we went about two miles into a dense 
thicket with our horses. We put out spies watching 
and waiting impatiently for them to move. Instead 
of marching, however, they were charging around 
the most public places in the vicinity, threatening 
Southern sympathizers with annihilation, but we 
got no chance to bushwhack them. 

During the day a squad of them went to the resi 
dence of Dick Cowan, one of my men, burned his 
house and other buildings, and attempted an out 
rage on one of his sisters who happened to be there. 
For several days the people in the neighborhood 
were compelled to suffer the most glaring insults 
and wrongs. Each night we renewed the attack, 
and killed one occasionally at all hours of the night. 
They stood our mode of warfare six days and nights, 
but early on , the morning of the seventh day they 
started on their way to Cape Girardeau. During 
their march we stationed ourselves at convenient 
places, and as they came along poured a deadly fire 


into their ranks and then retreated into the woods. 
We thought by this means to induce them to follow 
us, but it only seemed to hurry up their march. 
This we repeated three times before they reached 
Cape Girardeau. 

By this time we were anxious to see our families 
and started back to Arkansas. Taking our drugs 
that had been left with a friend, we soon met twenty- 
eight of Oapt. Reed s men who insisted on our tak 
ing a trip with them to Wayne county, and perhaps 
as far north as Iron county. To this I consented, 
detailing two of my men to take the drugs to Ar 
kansas, we started on our way, marching in day time. 
We passed about twenty miles south of Bloomfield 
and on to Greenville, in Wayne county, arriving 
there about sunset, but did not find any Federal 
troops in the place to protect its loyalty. Soon after 
arriving in town we heard of a company of Federals 
on Lost creek under Capt. Leeper, and taking our 
informant for a guide we marched at once to give 
them a fight. 

Reaching there about sunrise the next morning 
we charged their camp, running their pickets in at 
full speed, fought them only a few minutes, when 
those who had not got into the brush surrendered. 
In the fight we lost four men killed and six wounded, 
the latter, however, all recovered. Of the enemy 
we killed fifteen, wounded eight, and took ten pris 
oners beside the wounded. Our booty consisted of 
forty -four guns, sixty pistols, forty horses, four him- 


dred dollars in greenbacks, and other articles oi 
value to us and to our families. 

The subject of what disposition we would make of 
the prisoners came up, and in cases of the kind we 
were purely democratic, so we took the vote whether 
we would kill them or set them loose. 

In consideration of the wrongs my family had re 
ceived at their hands, and of their well-known 
cruelty, I made a speech in favor of killing them 
and voted accordingly. 

When the whole vote was counted I found myself 
in the minority by just two votes; but true to my 
word I released them, unarmed and on foot. 

In the evening before we had attacked them they 
had killed an old man by the name of Tom McKee 
-and burned his house with other buildings. This 
fresh outrage was not known to us until they were 
gone, or we undoubtedly would have shot them. 
On being informed of this fact, however, we sent a 
scout after them, but they had left the main road 
and secreted themselves in the thick woods. The 
wounded, however, were at our disposal, but we did 
not, during the whole war get mean enough to imi 
tate our enemies by killing wounded prisoners, but 
placed them at the house of a widow woman who 
promised to take care of them until the Federals at 
Pilot Knob could have them removed. 

We procured a wagon and loaded it with our booty ; 
took our six wounded men and started back to Green 
county, Arkansas, where we arrived without any 
difficulty, and found all things right at headquarters. 



Took fifteen men. Captured three Federals. Hung one. Captured 
a squad of Federals. Reception of "Uncle Bill" Hung all the 
prisoners. Captured jive more, and hung one. 

After spending the winter very agreeably, on the 
10th day of March, 1364, 1 concluded to make a raid 
to the vicinity of Jackson, Cape Girardeau county^ 
Missouri, with fifteen men, several of whom were 
from that county, and knew the people and country 

It was to remunerate these men for the invaluable 
services they had rendered me on several of my 
trips that I consented to go with them. 

We passed through Butler county into Stoddard, 
leaving Bloomfield to the south a few miles, crossed 
the southeast corner of Bollinger and into Cape 

Having traveled very slowly, and altogether in 
the night, we had created no disturbance on our 
way, nor interfered with any one, for it was our 
custom to make no demonstrations until we were 
ready to return. 

In the latter part of the night we arrived in the 
vicinity of Jackson, selected a good place and 
camped for the day, during which time some of the 
boys visited their friends. One of my men who was 
an entire stranger in that part of the country, went 


into the town to get whisky, and to see what was 
going on. 

On returning late in the evening he told me that 
there were three Federals in town who seemed to be 
well acquainted with the people, and that they were 
behaving very well. He wanted to take some of 
the boys and go back after them, to which I con 
sented. They started off in eager haste, but soon 
returned with the three prisoners, having met 
them in the road some distance from town. Not 
knowing them I retained them as prisoners un 
til the boys came in who knew them. Being 
governed by their statements, I released two of the 
Federals and kept the other as a prisoner, and took 
him with us when we started that night for White 
Water, but we did not take him far before we tied 
him to a limb. 

On White Water we remained inactive several 
days, receiving the kindest treatment from our 
Southern friends, which enabled some of my men to 
visit their friends and relatives. 

About sunset one evening a citizen came to us 
and stated that about an hour before nine Federals 
had passed the road, and the probabilities were that 
they would stop for the night at the first house. 

The night was now growing very dark, and we 
were soon under full pursuit of them. On nearing 
the house, however, we rode very slowly, and tied 
our horses in the thicket at some distance, and ap 
proached the premises very cautiously. It was a 
double hewed log house, with an open hall between 


them, with a small cooking apartment forming an 
ell to the main building, but separated from it by a 
narrow hall also. 

After forming my men in a line around the house 
I crept to the windows and peeped into both rooms, 
only one of which, however, was lighted, and in it I 
could see no one except a very old lady, who might 
have been a grandmother, and some little children 
who were grouped around the old lady, and who 
seemed to be holding a very earnest conversation 
with her in a very low tone. I went around to the 
kitchen window, and upon looking in to my great 
joy I saw the Federals eating their supper. 

The position I occupied was a very easy one, and 
their conversation was so peculiarly interesting that 
I could not refrain from listening. They were using 
very vulgar and indecent language to the lady 
who, with all the kindness and amiability charac 
teristic of her sex, was waiting upon the ruffians, 
while the old gentleman was seated on a box in a 
corner of the room exposed to the most outrageous 
insults, accompanied with threats of the most 
heineous character; but in silent fear the old man 
bore their criminal epithets and bitter curses with- 
our returning a word. 

By this time I had heard all that my weak hu 
manity could bear. I retreated from my position, 
passed around the circle, and collected my men at 
the entrance to the kitchen into the open hall, this 
being their only place of egress, and placed an 
equal number of my men on each side. I now 


stepped into the door and demanded a surrender, 
at which my men became impatient and rushed for 
the door, but I prevented them from entering. Each 
of the Federals pushed back his chair, at which I 
told them that I would shoot any man who should 
attempt to arise from the table with his arms, admit 
ting my men at the same time. At this the Fede 
rals placed their revolvers on the table and retired 
according to my command to the fartherest end of 
the room and formed in a line. 

By this time our little disturbance had aroused 
the old grandmother and the little children in the 
other house, who came to the scene, the children 
screaming in a terrible manner, and clinging to the 
old lady s dress for protection. On reaching the 
kitchen, however, the scene was quite different from 
what they had expected. They halted a moment at 
the door in dreadful suspense, then suddenly the 
oldest girl, who was about eight years of age, sprang 
suddenly into the room, exclaiming "Well, grandma ! 
if here ain t Uncle Bill ! " then seizing one of my 
men by the hand she sobbed aloud, w Oh Uncle Bill! 
don t let the soldiers kill pa ! " at which the whole 
household greeted " Uncle Bill." The old gentle 
man last of all approached my man who had been 
recognized and greeted with so many smiles and 
such marked distinction, giving his hand slowly 
while the tears trickled down his weather-beaten 
cheek, and only said: "Bill, I m glad to see you," 
my comrade receiving his hand and retaining it for 
perhaps half a minute, said nothing, but turned and 


introduced me as Major Hildebrand to his relative, 
and to the household. As I stepped forward to re 
ceive the salutation of the old gentleman of whom 
I had heard so much, and knew so little, I heard one 
of the prisoners remark, i( a hell of a Major," and 
upon casting my eyes around I found them ready to 
burst into a derisive laughter, which I must con s ess 
took me a little back. 

At this I ordered one of the rooms forming the 
main building lighted, and stationing my men prop- 
erly, I marched my prisoners out of the kitchen 
through the little hall into the room of the main 
building, put a guard over them and pickets around 
the house, I returned to the kitchen with my man 
now known as " Uncle Bill," to have a talk with the 
old gentleman while his wife was hastily preparing 
a nice little supper for us all. The old man again 
took me by the hand, thanking me for my coinci 
dental visit, stated that the Federals had made 
several trips into the neighborhood after him, but 
having been told of their threats, he had always 
heretofore succeeded in eluding their search. He 
also stated that the only charge they had against 
him was for feeding bushwhackers, and that when 
the soldiers came up to his house on the present oc 
casion, just after dark, they were in the hall before 
he saw them, and he had no possible way of escape 
except through them. 

Considering his escape so very uncertain, he re 
solved to submit to his fate, and that when we made 
our timely appearance he was a prisoner, sentenced 


to be executed as soon as they were done supper. 
He wound up his statement by saying : "Well, Major 
Hildebrand, I must confess I am very agreeably dis 
appointed in your general appearance ; I have long 
been anxious to see you, and am surprised that you 
never called on me before, but if you had done so 
I should never have taken you for Sam Hildebrand. 
I was led to believe, by hearing of your exploits, 
that you certainly was a rough looking customer, 
a perfect "raw-head and bloody-bones ;" and that 
Belzebub himself would have been daunted by your 
ferocious appearance." 

Supper being announced eight men were left to 
guard the prisoners while the others were eating, 
until all had partaken of the sumptuous repast. 
We were now ready for business, we marched our 
prisoners out to the fence in front of the house, tied 
their hands securely behind them, placed them on 
their own horses and tied their feet together under 
neath. Then mounting we started south, leading 
the horses on which the prisoners rode. Having 
traveled very fast we reached a part of the country 
as day began to approach in which we felt perfect 
ly safe. 

Leaving the road we went into a deep ravine 
about fifteen miles northeast from Bloomfield, 
covered with thick undergrowth and sheltered by 
heavy timber. Here we hung our prisoners. They 
were really brave fellows, and submitted to their 
fate without a murmur, and during our march that 
night they showed not the least sign of being con- 


quered, but said they were McNeal s men, an/l that 
when they went into the army it was for the pur 
pose of killing Rebels, and that some of the worst 
Rebels they had killed were men who were staying 
at home, and the most of them professing to be 

After disposing of our prisoners, we secreted our 
horses in a dense thicket, and ten of us took our 
stations on a road leading from Benton, Scott coun 
ty, Missouri, to watch for Federals. We remained 
here nearly all day without seeing any, and were 
thinking about giving it up as a bad job and return 
ing to our camps ; but when the sun was about an 
hour high, in the evening, we discovered five Fede 
rals wending their way slowly toward Bloomfield. 

My men were divided into two parties, and were 
stationed about one hundred yards apart. We al 
lowed them to get nearly opposite the second squad 
of which I was one, then we stepped suddenly into 
the road before them and demanded a surrender, to 
which they submitted, but seemed very much 
alarmed. On calling up my men who had been 
stationed farther down the road, and who stood at 
this time behind the prisoners. They seemed some 
what relieved as they recognized one of them as 
being an old acquaintance, who extended his hand 
cordially to all of them but one, remarking to him 
that he would not shake hands with him "until he 
met him in h 11." 

They now dismounted and surrendered up their 
arms and their horses. I then marched them out of 


the road to a safe distance into the woods and in 
quired of my man who had recognized them, con 
cerning their character. He reported that all of 
them were his acquaintances of long standing; that 
four of them were very clever fellows, these I re 
leased immediately; but the fifth one we hung after 
investigating his case. 

When night came we mounted our horses, and 
taking our booty with us, started back to Arkansas. 



Put in a crop. Started to Missouri with nine men. Killed a sold 
ier near Dallas. Went to St. Francois county. Watched for 
Walls and Baker. Watched near Big River Mills for McGahan 
Came near shooting Mr. Sharp. Robbed Surges, Hughes and 
Kelley of their horses. Robbed Abrighfs store. Captured some 
Federals on White Water. 

As we all belonged to the "Independent Bush 
whacking Department of the Confederate States of 
America," and were entirely dependent on our own 
exertions for a livelihood, it was necessary now that 
we should put in our crops. 

For nearly two months Crowley s Ridge on which 
we lived, and the adjacent country, looked as if it 
contained an industrious little community of "honest 

The axe was heard in every direction ; the smoke 
from burning brush was curling up from a thousand 
fires, and at night the little boys and girls were 
making bright fires until midnight, under the im 
pression hinted at by their fathers that it was "such 
fun." All da} 7 long the women were out in full 
force with their hoes and their rakes, unmindful of 
the music of crying babies heard at nearly every 
cabin. Mothers are nearly always deaf while plant 
ing out onions; it is a little season of orphanage 
through which most children in the country have to 


pass once a year. We have all passed through that 
bitter day with red eyes, and it is no wonder that the 
sight of an onion in after life is so apt to bring tears 
in our eyes. 

I put in a good crop of corn, and my wife made an 
excellent garden with no help but the children. I 
am very much tempted to brag a little on my excel 
lent wife, but if I were to assert that I had the best 
wife in the world, each one of my male readers who 
are married would want me to except his own ; this 
would render the exceptions so numerous that my 
wife would come in nearly last, so I will say nothing 
about it, and keep my own opinion to myself. 

After plowing my crop over once I made prepara 
tion for another trip to Missouri, but we had all got 
into such a good humor while busily engaged in 
farming, that we were nearly two days recounting 
our grievances before we were mad enough to think 
of snatching our enemies into eternity. 

Taking nine men, one of whom had served under 
Quantrel, we started on the 25th day of May, 1864, 
for another raid into Missouri, Crossing the St. 
Francis river at the southwest corner of Stoddard 
county, we went into Scott county and watched 
three days and nights to catch some men we were 
after, but failing in this we went in the direction of 
Dallas, the county seat of Bollinger. 

My men wanted to return, as nothing of an excit 
ing interest had transpired so far ; but at my earnest 
solicitation they agreed to go with me one more 
day. The next morning we were traveling in day 


time, and had not proceeded more than four or five 
miles when we discovered a party of Federals, 
seven in number, who had discovered us and were 
under full speed toward the town of Dallas, which 
was at that time garrisoned by about one hundred 
Dutch soldiers. We dashed on after them ; the race 
was a very exciting one. When we had gone about 
six miles we began to gain on them, and when we 
got within a mile of the garrison one of their horses 
fell, giving the rider a thump on the ground that 
knocked him senseless until we were upon him. 
We disarmed him, and as his horse had not left, we 
made him mount and go with us about two miles in 
the woods. 

The Dutchman seemed very much alarmed, and 
gave us enough broken English for a good sized 
volume; but as soon as we arrived in a thick tim 
bered hollow between the hills, we quietly sent his 
spirit back to the Khine where it never should have 
left. In a few hours we called at the house of a 
friend, fed our horses and got some refreshments for 

To the Flat Woods, in St. Francois county, we 
then made our way, and remained there about 
twenty-four hours, after which we went to the ex 
treme northern part of the county, and concealed 
ourselves among the Pike Run hills. Those hills 
are perhaps the most rugged part of the whole State, 
and are covered with a dense thicket of under 
brush, making it a wild, uninhabited wilderness. 
These hilk not being far from Bi river, they afforded 


me a secure place for my temporary headquarters 
while searching around for my enemies. 

Early in the morning I engaged the services of a 
well known friend, who feigned business in several 
parts of the neighborhood, who returned at night 
and reported that only two of my persecutors were 
at home, whose name were James Walls and John 

^n the following morning when the light of day 
again pierced through the gloom of our retreat I 
went and stationed myself near the house where 
they both resided. 

I did not watch long before Walls came out onto 
the porch. But I had failed to get a position suffi 
ciently near for me to kill him at the house; I was 
watching for them to come to the wood pile, which 
would only have been about one hundred yards. I 
could always hit a spot as large as a man s hand at 
that distance with old "Kill-devil." 

About ten o clock two men rode up to the house, 
alighted and went in ; they came out again in half 
an hour followed by both Walls and Baker, who 
started of in an opposite direction from where I lay. 
I then changed my position to the opposite side of 
the house, thinking they probably would return 

I remained quietly until the sun had dipped be 
hind the western hills, then I returned to camp 
where I again found my friend who had acted as a 
spy for me. He told me that he had seen Baker and 
Walls going in the direction of Da Soto with two 


other men. one of whom stated to him that "Sain 
Hildebrand was thought to be in the country, from 
the fact that strange and very rough looking rneri 
had been seen at several public places, and that 
they were thought to be fiildebrand s men." 

The reader will here understand that these un 
warrantable scares were very irequentin this vicin 
ity; one poor ragged stranger making his appear 
ance in the neighborhood was sufficient at any time 
to raise the cry of "Hildebrand," at which all who 
had wronged me would squat like young quails. 

Knowing that any further efforts to kill either 
Walls or Baker would be fruitless, I concluded to 
run the risk of watching the town of Big Biver 
Mills, which was at that time a place of rendezvous 
for the Militia, where they generally collected be 
fore starting out against me. 

I accordingly took my station on a bluff overlook 
ing the main road leading from the settlement of 
my old enemies to that place, being about a quarter 
of a mile below the town and fifty yards from the 
road. At daylight I was on the bluff and ready for 
business. During the day people passed the road at 
intervals of from fifteen minutes to half an hour; 
but none of them were the men I wanted to kill. 
From the position I occupied I could easily recog 
nize the features of any one with whom I was for 
merly acquainted. 

In the evening, about an hour by sun, I discovered 
a man riding slowly and alone toward the town, 
whom I recognized as Joe McGahan. A thrill of 


intense satisfaction pervaded my whole system, 
which it would be folly in me to attempt to describe. 
The English language from its high standard of dig 
nity to its inexhaustible mine of scathing invective 
would be inadequate to describe the supreme con 
tempt I felt for that man. When I reflected that 
one of the men who had dipped his hands in the 
blood of my brothers was now within the range of 
my gun, my feelings of joy, mingled with a hope of 
success was indescribable. Nearer and nearer he 
came, unconscious that retributive justice was hang 
ing over his head ; and as he approached the de 
sired point I raised my trusty rifle to my face, placed 
my finger on the trigger, and was nearly in the act 
of pulling when the man turned his face a little to 
ward me, when I discovered the sad and almost 
fatal mistake, that instead of being McGrahan it was 
a man by the name of Sharp. He was a Union man 
living near by, but was a worthy man and highly 
esteemed by all who knew him. I almost involun 
tarily hailed him in order to explain and apologize, 
but was checked instantly by the return of reason- 
As he passed slowly out of sight my eyes were 
riveted on him until a point of the bluff around which 
he had passed broke -the spell. I was deeply ab 
sorbed in thought, and the question naturally arose 
in my mind, why I should have been so often 
thwarted in my attempts to meet out justice to one 
who was a scourge to the land that gave him birth, 
and who had not even the magnanimity of the rat- 


tlesnake whose alarm is heard before the blow is 

I arrived finally to the conclusion that his Satanic 
Majesty, who still ruled the infernal regions with 
out a rival, was jealous of his protege upon earth 
where he still needed his services, and that he wished 
to delay the period when he woul d te compelled to 
doff his crown to a superior. 

I did not remain long in ambush after I had come 
so near committing a terrible error; but hastened 
through the woods, back to my retreat among the 
Pike Run hills, and found my men awaiting my re 
turn with anxious impatience. As soon as it was 
dark we started south, and after midnight reached 
the pinery, southwest from Farmington, and slept 
there until late in the morning. Our horses were 
much fagged, we saw that it was best to swap them 
off before proceeding on our journey. 

During the day we stationed ourselves near the 
plank road between Farmington and Pilot Knob, to 
watch for an opportunity of exchanging horses. A 
large company of Federals passed by, but they were 
too numerous for our purpose. Toward evening we 
saw three men approaching who were mounted 
upon fine looking horses. The names of the men. 
were BurgeSj Hughes and Kelley. We lost no time 
in capturing the party, and to prevent them from re 
porting us too soon, we made them go with us seve 
ral miles over the rugged hills and deep ravines. 

Not understanding this movement, they seemed 


much alarmed, thinking probably that we designed 
"barking" them. 

Old man Burges begged manfully for his life, and 
shed s*n occasional tear; bat I told him that as they 
were not Federal soldiers, and that as I had no per 
sonal animosity against them, it would be barbarous 
in the extreme for us to harm them. We took their 
horses, gave them our own and then released them. 
They left seemingly very well pleased with the ar 
rangement, and as we had rather out-jockeyed them, 
we certainly had no right to complain. 

We kept near the road leading to Pilot Knob un 
til near sunset, when we came to Abrighl s store. 
Abright was a good Union Dutchman, and was not 
in the habit of crediting bushwhackers, so we rob 
bed his store of all we wanted and then taking the 
woods we changed our course. 

Night soon overtook us, arid we traveled eastward 
until we got into the neighborhood where Mr. Bess 
resided, on White Water. It was now late in the 
morning, and we took our position on the top of a 
high hill where we had a fine view of the surround 
ing country, and especially of the main road along 
which the Federals were in the habit of passing 
from Cape Girardeau to Fredericktown. 

In the evening, while most of us were sleeping, 
my pickets discovered a small squad of soldiers 
about half a mile off, making their way westward. 
On being awakened I directed my men to follow 
me, went down to the road which was skirted by 
very thick undergrowth, where we secreted our 


selves in two parties about fifty yards apart, giving 
orders not to fire on the Federals unless they showed 
fight or attempted to run. When they got near the 
second squad we stepped out into the road and de 
manded them to surrender. Our appearance was 
so sudden that they had no time to draw their 
weapons. Several of them wheeled their horses for 
a run, but on discovering themselves faced on that 
side also they threw up their hands in token of a 
willingness to surrender. 

I made them dismount and stack their arms 
against a tree; after which we marched them into 
the woods to where our horses were and proceeded 
to question them. 

Then I told them who I was, at which they seemed 
rather pleased, and remarked that they had often 
heard of me, and although they had no desire to fall 
into my hands as prisoners of war, yet they always 
wished to see me. 

I asked them if they had not heard of me as being 
a bushwhacker and withal a very bad man, and 
that I was in the habit of killing all my prisoners. 
"Oh, yes !" said their leader, "we have heard that 
you did not regard the life of a personal enemy as 
of any value, but we have seen several men whom 
you had released who told us that you was quite a 
different man from the fabulous blood-thirsty Hilde- 
brand we have heard so much about in timid circles." 

Upon producing papers which satisfied us that 
they were neither McNeal s orLeeper s men, but be 
longed to th& command of Ool. Beverage of Cape 


Girardeau, we released them unarmed and afoot. 
We went on toward Bollinger s Mill, but when in 
that vicinity on the next morning about sunrise, we 
met two Federals in the road, who instantly wheeled 
their horses and dashed through the woods at full 

Being burdened with the horses and the arms we 
had taken from our prisoners on the day previous, 
all of us could not engage in the pursuit. Captain 
Snap, myself and two men started after them at full 
speed, and caught them in less than half a mile. 
They stopped and threw up their hands before we 
were within two hundred yards of them. I was al 
most tempted to shoot them for being cowards. 

After taking them back to our boys, we went on 
the top of an adjacent hill and camped for the day. 
We ascertained from the prisoners that they were 
new recruits, which was corroborated by some let 
ters from their friends which they happened to have 
in their pockets. 

K nowing that they had not been in the army long 
enough to have committed many depredations, we 
decided to release them; but as we were already 
burdened with horses we took them along with us 
to assist with our stock until we had passed Mingo 
Swamp, and then released them. A few days after 
wards we arrived safely in Green county, Arkansas. 




Started to St. Francois county, Missouri. Hung Vogus and Zlm- 
mer. Hung George Hart. Concealed in Pike Run Hills. 
Started back. Hung Mr. Met? a negro, and another Qtie*~-Took 
two deserters back and hung them. 

After remaining a few days with my family, I yielded 
to the solicitation of Captain Bowman to take a trip to 
St. Francois county, Missouri, for the purpose of cap 
turing a young man by the name of George Hart, who, 
on a scout with some militia, had killed Captain Bow 
man s brother in order to get a very fine horse that he 

Our company, consisting of nine men, started on the 
20th day of June, 1864 ; we traveled altogether in the 
night, and on the morning of the 26th we camped for 
the day on Wolf creek, about six miles from Farming- 
ton. During the day one of my men clad himself in 
citizen s clothes, which we always carried along for 
such emergencies, and went into Farmington to see 
the sights and to get a bottle of good old "tangle-foot." 

When night came our man had not made his appear 
ance; we immediately arrested a couple of Dutchmen 
for the purpose of eliciting information from them con. 
cerning the military force in town, thinking that prob 
ably my man had been taken in by the soldiers as a spy. 
The men we arrested were Henry Yogus and John 
Dimmer, who stated that there were no forces in town 


at that time, and that there had been no soldiers there 
for nearly a month. They affirmed that they had been 
there that day, and that if we did not believe them they 
would go with us to town and prove the matter. At 
this juncture my man came in and reported a company 
of soldiers in the town who had been there for some 
time. It was now evident to our minds that the Dutch 
men were aiming to trap us. I will here state that 
during the whole war the Dutch went further, tried 
harder and risked more for my capture than any other 
people. A very short consultation was sufficient to 
seal the fate of our two prisoners on the present occas 
ion; we hung them and went on our way rejoicing. 
Passing a short distance east of Farmington, we stopped 
at the house of Boss Jelkyl, who was at that time Pro 
vost Marshal, and took such things as we needed. 
Some of my men were anxious to kill him, but he had 
befriended me on one occasion, and I would not permit 
them to do so. 

From there we went to the residence of Charles Hart, 
where we found his son George, whom we were after. 
We stationed men at the back door and demanded ad 
mittance at the front; the old man in a short time 
opened the door, and in obedience to our orders struck 
a light. On demanding George Hart he made his ap 
pearance, looking very much condemned. On asking 
him about the horse he had taken when he murdered 
young Bowman, ho stated that he had traded him off, 
and that he was out of the country. We then told him 
that he must go with us, to which he made no objec 
tion, but was very anxious to know what w& wished tq 


do with him; we told him to wait and soe. Before we 
had taken him far, he became satisfied that he would 
be killed, and made us some offers for his life, which 
Captain Bowman silenced in a few words by asking 
him if he thought he was able to pay for the life of 
young Bowman whom he had murdered in cold blood. 
^Ve traveled about eight miles with our prisoner, during 
which time he made a complete confession. 

Daylight began to appear; we were now about a mile 
from Big Biver Mills, and not wishing to be encum- 
bereci by a prisoner, we took some hickory bark and 
hung him to a dogwood sapling. One of his feet touched 
the ground, so we placed it in the fork of a bush, 
which completed the process of hanging. 

The main object of our trip having been accomplished, 
our next move was to get supplies of summer clothing 
for our families, which we decided on taking from an 
old meddlesome Union German in Jefferson county by 
the name of Lepp, who had a store on a small creek 
called Swashen. We accordingly proceeded to the 
place and found the old man in his store ; he was close- 
fisted and not in the habit of crediting, but we succeeded 
in getting all we wanted at very low figures, and after 
promising him our patronage in the future we started 

Knowing that our operations about Farmington 
would create a great excitement, that the forces at 
Pilot Knob, Farmington, Potosi, Fredericktown and 
the Iron Mountain with the irrepressible Big River 
Militia, would all be put on our trail, we decided to 
travel by night and to get out of the country as soon 


as possible. But we were overruled by a power higher 
than our own, and our plans were in some measure 

On our way to rob Lepp s store, one of my men 
complained of feeling unwell, and by the time we had 
rode ten miles on our return he became too sick to sit 
upon his horse. We retreated to a cave in the Pike 
Run hills where we could conceal ourselves, our horses 
and our goods while administering to the wants of our 
sick comrade. Our situation here was indeed a very 
critical one, and had it not been for the kindness of a 
true Southern friend, who supplied us at night with 
provisions and horse feed, we undoubtedly would have 
suffered ; he risked his own life to save us ; and in addi 
tion to his other acts of kindness he procured the ser 
vices of a physician, who checked the-diseaso in a few 

It is needless to state that during all- this time the 
country was literally flooded with Federal soldiers 
who hunted for me on their same old plan, of riding 
along the road, threatening women and children, and 
killing chickens. 

After remaining at the Pike Bun hills seven or eight 
days, our comrade was sufficiently recovered to mount 
his horse. As he was yet quite weak we thought it 
best to travel during daylight at the commencement of 
our trip. We rode slowly through the woods, and 
avoided the soldiers by keeping out of the public roads, 
and by shunning all places where liquor could be ob 
tained. On reaching the vicinity of my brothers-in- 
law, on Flat river, we met old Isaac, a negro belonging 


to Mr. Metis, carrying a bridle around his shoulder* 
As we were dressed in Federal uniform he mistook us 
for Union soldiers, and in answer to our inquiries, made 
a lengthy report against the Southern men in that 
neighborhood, clearly implicating the Simms family as 
well as the Shannons and Sweeneys, He said he would 
have reported sooner, but that he was afraid they 
would suspicion him and get Sam Hildebrand to put 
him out of the way. 

The report he made to us, if told to a squad of Fed* 
orals, was sufficient to have consigned those Southern 
men to an ignominious death without any further evi 
dence. The charge was this: that in his opinion " if 
Sam Hildebrand was to call at their houses and ask 
for something to eat, that they would feed him until he 
was as plump as a stuffed turkey." Some of my boys 
wanted to shoot him to prevent him from making that 
awful revelation to the Federal authorities ; but I ob 
jected, because the sound of a gun might lead to our 
discovery. We quietly lashed him to a horse which 
we were leading, took him among the hills toward 
Westover s mill and hung him. On searching his 
pockets for a knife I found a pocket book containing 
sixty-four dollars. Some of the boys proposed that as 
they seemed to have money we should take in a few 
negroes until our pockets were replenished. On the 
next day we came suddenly across one in the woods ; 
as we were traveling slowly it was ntcessary that we 
should get through the country without being reported. 
Having no spare rope, we hung the negro with hickory 


bark; but on searching his pockets we found nothing 
but a cob pipe. 

Nothing else worthy of note occurred until we reach 
ed the vicinity of Greenville, While camped for the 
day on a high elevation, we discovered two men eom-> 
ing up the bill toward us. Under the supposition that 
they were tracking u, we were about to shoot them,, 
but discovered presently that they were not armed, 
They eam/e leisurely up the hill, walking as if they 
were- very tired, and got within fifteen steps of our 
camp before they discovered it, Their first impulses 1 
was to run, but we ordered them to &urrender, and 
they abandoned all idea of being able to make- their 
escape. They proved to be deserters from the Federal 
army at Ironton, who were making their way to their 
homes at JSTew Madrid. One of my men knew them 
well, and to him they are indebted to this day for their 
lives,- "We kept them with us until night and then per 
mitted them to continue their journey. 

We were no little amused at the many horrible tales- 
of pillage and blood-shed that they &aid were reported 
daily at the Federal camps about my deprecations* 
The strangest part of it was that many of those enor 
mities were committed on the same dar and in locali 
ties very remote- from each other- 

When night came the rest of the company proceeded 
on to Arkansas " f but Captain Bowman, Traster and 
myself concluded to- go into- Shannon county after a 
couple of deserters who, in the early part of the wai> 
had belonged to Captain Bolin^s command. While with 
r however, they were- of no serviee/being too cow- 



ardly to fight and too lazy to steal; but since their 
desertion they were constantly reporting every squad 
of rebels who visited that section of country, and were 
in the habit of annoying Southern citizens in that 

On reaching tlae neighborhood where Jthey lived we 
learned that they had gon<e to Irontou, and the sup 
position was that t&ey had gone there for the purpose 
of joining the Union army. But on the next day they 
returned; we quietly arrested them, got them out of 
the country without creating any alarm and marched 
them back to Green county, Arkansas, where we hung 
ihem in the presence of the command. 



Started with nine men to St. Francois county. Stopped in tJie 
Pike Run Hills. Robbed the store of Christopher Le-pp.Hunp 
Mr. Kinder s negro. Attacked by Federals. Rilled two and 
tost a -man. Shot two soldiers on a furlough. TJie strange 

I had not been at home long before I formed the ac 
quaintance of a man by the name of G ibson, who had 
come to our little Green County Confederacy for the 
purpose of joining the "bushwhacking department/ 
Gibson was a man possessing some superior advan 
tages over most of Capt. Bolin s men ; he had an ac 
complished education, and was endowed with a pecu 
liar faculty of making all the men like him. He was 
the best marksman in our whole company, with one 
single exception ; and that exception, I must modestly 
assert for the sake of truth, was myself. 

On the 16th day of July, I selected Gibson and eight 
other men for another trip into St. Francois county. 
Having made so many failures in that quarter, I had 
some forebodings that I would again meet with disap 
pointments ; but I had long since resolved to let my 
old enemies have no peace while I labored under no 
greater disadvantages than I did. It is true that they 
were backed by a great nation of untold wealth, whose 
enemies actually in the field numbered more than one 
million and a half of armed men, and whofce line o 


garrisoned territory extended one hundred and fifty 
miles south of their nest on Big river; yet while I 
thought that I was backed by the South with her 
armies of three hundred thousand men, I asked no bet 
ter amusement than that of striking at my enemies 
under the ponderous wing of Federal protection. 

Unlike my enemies, I had no commissary depart 
ment, no steam presses running night and day striking 
off greenbacks, no outlet to other nations by commer 
cial treaties, no people at my back willing to be sad 
dled with a debt of three or four thousand millions of 
dollars merely to carry into effect a Utopian idea. 
My long marches had to be made in the night and with 
the utmost caution and secrecy. The woods were my 
home, the moon my orb of light, and the hooting owls 
my spectators. 

My enemies long since had learned to fear my name; 
the fear of retributive justice was sufficient to make 
them cower; their militia organization only assumed a 
tangible shape when I was absent ; for on my approach 
they secreted themselves so securely that nothing short 
of the prolonged sound of Gabriel s trump could ever 
be able to bring them forth. 

We passed quietly through Butler county, along the 
western line of Madison, then through St. Francois and 
across Big river to those native hills and hunting 
grounds of my boyhood, known as the Pike Run hills. 

The reader munt bear in mind that these hills pos 
sess peculiar advantages over any other part of the 
country between St. Louis *and the Arkansas line. 

They look like the fragments of a broken up 


world piled together in dread confusion, and termin 
ating finally in an abrupt bluff on the margin of Big 
river, where nature has left a cavern half way up the 
perpendicular rock, now known as " The Hildebrand 
Cave," the mouth to which cannot be seen either from 
the top or bottom. 

Among these rugged hills, covered over by the dense 
forest and wild grape vines, are many yawning cav 
erns known to some hunters, while there are doubtless 
many others never yet seen by the eye of man. "We 
took up our abode in one of these caverns during the 
inclemency of the weather, and as the ground was too 
soft to venture out on horseback, for fear of leaving a 
trail, I went around through the Big river neighbor 
hood on foot, for the purpose of finding some of my 
enemies. The only one I saw was James Craig; I dis 
covered him one day in the act of leaving home on 
foot, so Inade a circuit through the woods and 
stationed myself in advance with the intention of ar 
resting him. I wished to take him to n^ cavern that 
my comrades also might see him hung; but he never 
came along, and thus I missed my game entirely. 

By this time my men were tired of inaction, so we 
started on our march, and on going about fifteen miles 
we came to a place called the Tunnel, on the Iron 
Mountain railroad. 

From the store of Christopher Lepp, we supplied 
ourselves with all the articles that we coiild conven 
iently carry, took our back track to the crossing of Big 
river, near the ruins of the Hildebrand homestead, and 
made our way toward Castor creek, for the purpose 


of squelching a negro belonging to Mr. Kinder. This 
negro had become notorious for his meddlesome na 
ture, and his propensity for reporting white men. On 
the night of our arrival there, we succeeded in finding 
him, and to satisfy ourselves thoroughly in regard to 
his meanness, we passed ourselves off for Federals, and 
questioned him concerning his old master. He very 
freely and exultingly proceeded to relate the many 
reasons he had for believing that he was disloyal. We 
asked him whether or not he was willing for us to kill 
the old man. He told us that he would kill him him 
self if we would see him out in itj that the soldiers had 
told him two or three months ago that if he would kill 
him that he should have the farm, but that as yet 
he had not succeeded in getting a good opportunity. 
At this we were satisfied that he would make good 
food for the buzzards, so we hung him up for that pur 
pose, and started on our way. 

We were now traveling in day time and pursuing 
our way very leisurely, when about four o clock in the 
evening, we were trailed up and ran into by a company 
of Federals, who had probably been trailing us all day. 
They ran on to us in good earnest, and seemed very 
anxious for the honor of capturing or killing me. The 
manner of their attack is worthy of note. On getting 
within sight of us they held back until we were passing 
over the backbone of a ridge, then they made a rush, 
and on getting to the top of the hill were within one 
hundred yards of us. Their elevation caused them to 
over shoot all of us except one poor fellow, one of our 
new recruits, who was shot through the head. W 


dashed into the brush and went over that rough conn- 
try about a mile at full speed; then giving up our horses 
to the other men with directions where to meet us, 
Gibson, myself and two others, started back on foot to 
" bushwhack " them. On getting within two hundred 
yards of where jmr dead man lay, we saw them exult 
ing over their victory. I directed my men to make 
their way around and take their positions along the 
road where they could get a shot, while I taok it upon 
myself to run them back. I crawled up within one 
hundred yards of the party, got a bead on one of them, 
and when I fired he fell from his horse within a few 
feet of where our dead man lay. This was all that was 
necessary to put them on their back track, and they 
were off at full speed j as they passed my men they all 
ured in turn, Gibson brought one to the ground, but I 
think the other boys missed their aim, although they 
insisted to the last that they wounded a man apiece. 

We secured the horses belonging to the two men we 
killed, and started on our journey, and on the follow 
ing morning took up quarters within eight miles of 

During the day, myself and Bill E-ucker, walked 
down to a plum thicket near the road, and while wo 
were there eating plums, we discovered two Dutchmen 
dressed in citizens clothes passing by. We called to 
them to come and get some plums, which they readily 
consented to do. As we were dressed in Federal uni 
form they seemed at once to take us for Union sol 
diers. We asked them to what command they be 
longed j who they were, and why they wr not in 


the service. They said they belonged to Leeper s corn- 
man d, and were on a furlough to see their uncle living 
at Mine LaMotte, that they had on borrowed clothes 
and no arms in order to fool the Kebels, should they 
meet any. We found out a great deal about " Bolin s 
and Hildebrand s band of murderers and ropers/ as 
they called us. We shot them both, and returned to 
camp. At night we started on, and in a few days ar 
rived safely at our usual place of crossing the St. 

We arrived on the bank of the river just after dark, 
and were startled by the appearance of a camp on the 
other side at the mouth of a little creek. We could 
easily perceive the reflection from several camp fires 
among the trees, and more than once we caught the 
sound of human voices. 

Could it be possible that this was a camp of Fede 
rals ? If so, why did they not place out their pickets ? 
The more we studied about the matter the further were 
we from coming to any conclusion. 

We rode back into the timbered bottom and con 
tinued our way down the country at some distance 
from the river, until we were about a mile below the 
strange looking camp, and there crossed the river by 
swimming it. 

After continuing up the river a short distance we 
rode on to a high brushy point and dismounted. Then 
taking it on foot I proceeded to spy out the mysterious 
camp above us. I continued to approach cautiously 
watching closely for the pickets, but I saw nothing of 
them. Finally I stood in the midst of perhaps a dozen 


little brush shanties, and yet saw not a single human 
being. I was more puzzled than ever. I peeped into 
one of the brush arbors and a lady s voice cried out : 
" Who is that ?" The alarm spread, and I heard the 
voices of women in every direction. 

Presently I heard the voice of my wife, and on go 
ing to her I soon learned the particulars of the calam 
ity that had befallen our community in our absence. 



Capt. John, with a company of Federals, burns the Headquarters 
in Green county, Arkansas. He is "bushwhacked," routed and 
killed. Raid into Washington tounty with fourteen men. At 
tacked by twenty Federals. Killed a Union man for piloting 
Capt. John. 

A few days before my arrival in Arkansas, our lit 
tle community of women and children at headquarters, 
were suddenly aroused from their slumbers one morn 
ing by the firing of a gun, and found themselves sur 
rounded by a whole company of Federals under the 
command of Capt. John from Ironton, Missouri. 

All the men were absent on different scouting expe 
ditions, except eight men, who happened to be in camp 
that morning; they seized their guns and endeavored 
to make their escape, but seven of them were shot 
down, and the other made his escape unhurt. The Fed 
erals immediately commenced burning the houses, af 
ter taking all the provisions and clothing they could 

The women in great consternation, gathered their 
children, and in their night clothes huddled together 
in the centre of the square j there in their helpless cSn- 
dition to watch the devouring flames that was fast 
winding around them and reducing their homes to 

Before the houses were all in flames however, Capt. 


John ordered his men to supply the women with what 
clothing they could snatch from the flames. 

After their hasty toilet was concluded their terror 
subsided, and with perfect composure they watched 
the progress of the flames without betraying any emo 
tion; they were determined that the Federals should 
be deprived [the satisfaction of believing that they 
had triumphed over their spirit of eternal enmity to 
the FederaFcause. 

Some of our boys who had been out on a hunt now 
returned toward the camp, and before they were aware 
the Federals fired upon them and killed two of their 
number. As the scouts were in the habit of coming in 
from various directions, it was impossible to give them 
warning before they were completely in the Federal 

A few hours after the tragedy commenced, the Fed 
erals had all left, and the women in squads of five or 
six, went in different directions and camped a few 
miles off to meet the scouts as they returned. 

My wife and her party had camped near the St. 
Francis river, and were living on fish when I returned. 
The Federals were still in the neighborhood, burning 
the farm houses, mills and shops. 

On the same night that I learned these particulars, 
I sent all my men out in different directions to ferret 
out the enemy and to meet at a designated place before 
daylight. With much difficulty we succeeded in find 
ing several squads of the Federals, trom which we in 
ferred, that finding our men mostly absent, they had 


divided into many little bands to finish their work of 
devastating the country as soon as possible. 

We met at the time and place designated, and con 
cluded that our only chance was to "bushwhack" the 
Federals, and thus drive them out of the country as 
soon as possible. Two men were detailed to take a 
trip up Black river, to notify Capt. Bolin, and as many 
men as they could find, of what was going on, that they 
might intercept the Federals and " bushwhack " them 
after I should succeed in routing them from the 

In less than an hour our company was increased to 
fifteen men. We hastened on foot toward the lower 
end of the settlement, and on getting within half a 
mile of a farm house, we saw about thirty Federals en 
gaged in burning the buildings. We heard the dis 
charge of a gun, and on looking in that direction, we 
saw a Federal reel in his saddle and then fall to the 
earth. Two soldiers on horseback immediately dashed 
toward the point where the shot proceeded from, and 
in an instant we saw a boy about thirteen years of 
age, crawl out of a gully and start toward the point of 
the hill where we were with the soldiers after him. 

The boy had so much the start of them that we saw 
he could easily reach us before the Federals could 
overtake him. We lay concealed in the thick brush 
and let the boy pass without seeing us; the soldiers 
were soon in our midst; we rose up and made them 
surrender without creating any alarm. We tied them 
securely and awaited the approach of others who might 
be sent out in search of these two. 


The boy was greatly overjoyed when he found out 
who we were. In about half an hour ten Federals 
came riding up toward us. Our prisoners had been re 
moved back half a mile and hung to prevent an alarm. 
We saluted the Federals with a sudden discharge from 
our rifles, and six of them dropped from their horses ; 
the others suddenly wheeled and made their escape. 
The other soldiers hastened on to an adjoining ridge 
and kept up a harmless fire against us for two or three 
hours; they did this to divert our attention as it ap 
pears, for before we were fully aware of the fact a fresh 
force of Federals, numbering perhaps forty men, com 
menced a deadly fire upon us in our rear, and soon 
drove us from our position. Our retreat was rather 
disorderly, and before we had succeeded in crossing a 
ravine and gaining the opposite ridge, four of my men 
were killed and two others slightly wounded. We con 
tinued our retreat for five miles, and then placed our 
selves in position to rake the Federals without much 
danger to ourselves. Here we remained for several 
hours, and were loth to leave the place, but it finally 
became apparent to us that the intention of the Fed 
erals was to burn out the neighborhood, and then to 
hasten back before we could collect our men together. 

We wound our way through the woods toward our 
old headquarters. Late in the evening we heard 
firing in front, and in an instant we started in that di 
rection, but wore soon met by eight of our men who 
had just returned from a scout, without knowing what 
was going on. As they were on the retreat we did not 
feel justifiable in trying to make a stand against sueh 

SAMUEL S. HiLDB*AtfD. 223 

superior numbers, so we diverged to the right and let 
the Federals pass without attracting their attention. 

On the night following we succeeded in finding the 
Federal camp, and during the whole night continued 
to " bushwhack " them at intervals, until we bad killed 
eight or ten of their pickets. The next morning they 
seemed to have taken up their march for Missouri, but 
during the whole day we annoyed them all we could, 
by posting ourselves in positions where we had the ad 
vantage, and thereby picked off several of them. Late 
in the evening they made an attempt to follow us into 
the woods, but we attacked the party on every side } 
the slaughter was terrible, and we finally put them to 
rout after killing Capt. John himself, and quite a num 
ber of his men. 

We discovered among the Federals, several citizens, 
whom we afterwards learned had gone from Missouri 
for the purpose of giving all the assistance in their 
power toward ferreting out our headquarters. 

Wearied by constant fighting, I and my men now 
returned to the neighborhood of our old camp, leaving 
a fresh supply of Capt. Bolin s men to continue "bush 
whacking" the Federals until they should return to 
their hive in Ironton. 

After we had completely routed Capt. John s in* 
cendiaries and driven them from the country, our con 
dition was indeed deplorable. 

Without shelter for our families save a few htits that 
the Federals did not consider worth burning, into 
each of which two or three families were huddled, 
without bedding or a change of clothing, and but littl* 


food, we were indeed in adverse circumstances. Sev 
eral of our men were compelled to remain at head 
quarters several months to repair damages. Our fam 
ilies, in their crowded condition, became unhealthy, 
and several of the children died. While we were ar 
ranging matters for the comfort and convenience of 
our families, we obtained our supplies from the border 
counties of Missouri by making short raids ; our bed 
ding and provisions, however, we obtained in a great 
measure, from our friends; but we occasionally 
branched out further to rob the stores and houses of 
Union men. 

Another great difficulty under which we labored was 
the entire absence of surgical aid for our wounded, for 
the want of which many of our men who recovered 
were so deformed that they were forever afterward 
rendered unfit for active duty. 

The whole available force of our community now 
only amounted to eighty available men, and by the 
time that we had rebuilt twenty houses and a tempo 
rary mill, our numbers were still further reduced by 
desertion, for many of them now left and went into 
Texas. While these repairs were going on we held a 
council, in which it was decided that half our men 
might take the field against our enemies in Missouri, 
and make them pay for the damage that "we had sus 
tained. In doing this, however, we had no intention 
of applying the torch to the dwellings of our Union 
enemies; we were never mean enough for that; we 
made no war upon women and children; that kind of 


warfare was exclusively used by our enemies of boasted 
civilization, refinement and magnanimity. 

I started to Washington county, Missouri, with four 
teen men to obtain supplies of clothing and ammuni 
tion. With a great deal of caution we made our way 
up Black river through Butler and Eeynolds counties, 
and entered Washington county on her extreme south 
ern line, traveling only at night, and concealing our 
selves each day among the rugged hills of Black river. 

We visited a store and packed several horses which 
we had taken in the neighborhood, with shoes, domes 
tics and calicoes ; and here we found some concealed 
ammunition, which we appropriated. On starting back 
we traveled slowly ; not having heard of any Federals 
in the neighborhood, we imagined ourselves safe, and 
designed traveling in the day time. As we were so 
familiar with all the roads and by-paths in this section 
of country, we generally felt safe while on our re 
turn to Arkansas, but on this occasion we were 
doomed to disappointment. 

We had gone but a short distance into Eeynolds 
county, when we were suddenly attacked by a party 
of Federals, numbering perhaps twenty or twenty-five 
they had trailed us from the store we had robbed, and 
now they came upon us with a perfect fury. 

Being heavily packed and encumbered with the 
horses we were leading, we could not run j at their fire 
one of my men was killed, at which I took ad 
vantage of their empty guns, wheeled my men into the 
brush, dismounted, and in an instant returned their 
fire, at which three of their number fell j I dashed for- 


ward with about half my men and succeeded in gaining 
their rear. My party in front and my men in the rear 
now made a simultaneous charge upon them with our 
revolvers, killing two more and wounding several, in 
which two of my men were wounded, but not mortally. 

In the fight all the other Federals charged over us 
and got away, with the exception of eight prisoners, 
three of whom were wounded. The result of the lit 
tle fight was, five dead Federals, thirteen horses, eigh 
teen guns and ten revolvers; having lost one man 
killed and two wounded, but not sufficiently to keep 
them from traveling. 

After I had inspected the damages, I turned my at 
tention to the prisoners, who were dismounted, dis 
armed and sitting by the roadside, under guard. On 
approaching them two of them arose, called me by 
name and asked permission to shake hands with me. 
After a short conversation I found that they were two 
of the men I had captured on Lost creek, in Wayne 
county, during the month of May, 1863, whom I re 
leased after negotiating with them for the escape of 
two of Capt. Bolin s men in prison at Ironton. On 
recognizing them I again gave them my hand in reas 
surance that I appreciated the services they had ren 
dered us in proving true to their word, and could not 
help telling them that I was glad to see them. After 
the ceremony incident to the renewal of our acquaint 
ance was over, I began making preparations for con 
tinuing our journey after having first buried the dead. 

I told our two Union friends that they were again 
released, together with their three wounded comrades, 


but that I would take the other three along with me ; 
they, however, plead manfully for the release of their 
three friends, but I told them that I was compelled to 
have their assistance in getting along with our stock, 
until we reached Greenville, at which place, for their 
sake, I would release them, and true to my word, I did 

We made our way to Green county with as much 
haste as prudence would permit ; being too much bur 
dened to " bushwhack" any of those citizens who had 
accompanied Capt. John into our little confederacy, 
we concluded to let them rest for the present; but hav 
ing accidently met one in the road, I shot him through 
the head and rode on. We found all things cheerful 
about headquarters, and soon divided our goods among 
the needy families. 



Took a raid into Missouri with four men. Killed a Federal. 
Killed two of Capt. Milks men. Started to DeSoto. Routed 
by the Federals. Adventure with a German. Killed three Fed 
erals on Black river. 

In the latter part of August, 1864, I selected four 
men and started after some of my old enemies on Big 

At this period they had all disappeared except three 
or four who still ventured to call their old residences 
their homes, but they stayed most of their time around 
the Federal camps anxiously waiting for the time to 
come when the Federal authorities would succeed, 
either in killing or capturing me, when a new era of 
peace and quiet would again bless them in the pursuit 
of theft and murder. 

Those of the old mob who had left their homes and 
were now dwelling, as they supposed, in utter obscuri 
ty, were not lost sight of by me, for I kept myself 
posted in regard to all their movements. The especial 
object of this trip was to penetrate the enemies coun 
try as far as De Soto, Jefferson county, Missouri, and 
surprise a couple of the old mob who now lived in that 
vicinity, and before the authorities were aware of our 
unholy presence, to have our little mission of ven 
geance completed. On passing Bloomfield it might 
truthfully be said that we were within the Federal 


lines. A heavy military force was stationed at Pilot 
Knob at the beginning of the war, and smaller forces 
were station-ed at the county seats of the various 
counties in Southeast Missouri; they were inactive so 
far as the national war was concerned, but amused 
themselves by marauding through the country, and oc 
casionally killing some unarmed citizens, or indulging 
in the characteristics of Ben. Butler, 

On gaining the vicinity of Fredericktown, we ob 
tained important information from our friends in that 
quarter relative to the distribution of the Federal 
forces, which aided us materially in shaping our course. 
From this place we went east of Mine La Motte, and 
took up our quarters for the day in an unfrequented 
part of the country, about three miles south of the 
Cross Roads, in St, Francois county, where we re* 
mained unmolested until in the evening, when we dis 
covered a man in Federal uniform tracking our horses 
slowly across an adjoining ridge. We felt very sorry 
for him in his lonely condition; I went down the hill 
a little distance toward him, and when he came within 
a hundred yards of me, and commenced making his 
circuit toward our camp I turned old "Kill-devil" 
loose upon him; but owing to his stooping posture as 
he was looking for tracks I shot him too low and broke 
him down in the back. He set up a hideous yelling, 
which was very annoying to us just at this time; so I 
hastened to his relief, and soon dispatched him with 
my revolver. Being a little fearful that we had at 
tracted the attention of the people in the neighbor 
hood, and that perhaps a Union forci? was on our track 


of which the lone Federal might have been one of the 
number, we concluded to move. Directing our way 
through the most thickly wooded parts of the country 
during the balance of the day, we reached Wolf creek 
about midnight at the plank road leading from Farm- 
ington to Ste. Genevieve. 

Feeling much fatigued, and having lost much sleep, 
we decided on camping until the follo wing night, hav 
ing with us a sufficiency of provisions and horse feed. 
We slept soundly until daylight, and then did picket 
duty by turns until late in the evening, when I dis 
covered two Federal soldiers in the valley below us, 
going toward Farmington. I at once took my position 
with one of my men, and as they came up talking very 
merrily, we surprised them by presenting our pistols 
in a few feet of their faces and demanding a surrender, 
at which they seemed somewhat alarmed but made no 

After dismounting and disarming them we took them 
to our quiet nook in the woods, and upon inquiry we 
found that they belonged to a company at Ste. Gene- 
vieve under Capt. Milks. 

We felt very much rejoiced at getting two of this 
company who had formerly been stationed at Farm 
ington, and after harrassing and robbing the peaceable 
citizens in that community for several months they 
were removed to Ste. Genevieve. 

On one of their scouts through the country they ar 
rested Charles Burks, county judge of Ste. Genevieve 
for compelling the Provost Marshal to deliver up some 
horses belonging to the judge whom the marshal had 


unjustly seized. The old man was taken a few miles 
after his arrest by Milks men and shot without any 
questions being asked, and without even a charge of 
disloyalty ever having been brought against him. On 
another occasion they arrested Irvin M. Haile, one of 
the most peaceable men in St. Francois county, under 
a charge made by some sneaking informer, that on one 
occasion he had fed me and my men. This was the 
whole of the accusation brought against him. He was 
allowed no trial, no defense ; but two inhuman mon 
sters took him a few miles, shot him through the head, 
then taking his horse they left his body in the woods, 
where it was afterwards found. 

The recollection of these and some other acts of 
atrocity committed by that company sealed the fate of 
my two prisoners; in the name of justice and human 
ity I shot them both through the head with my re 
volver, and ordered my men to cast them in a deep 
hole of water in Wolf creek, with stones tied to their 

As soon as it was dark we went to the house of a 
friend to get some feed for ourselves and horses, but 
on arriving there we saw a party of perhaps twenty 
persons who were just mounting their horses in front 
of the gate, and in a few minutes they rode off and 
were lost to us in the dim starlight. We approached 
the house cautiously, but found no one there except 
the kind lady who told us that the cause of the excite 
ment was that "Sam Hildobrand was supposed to be in 
country;" that some soldiers from Fredericktown had 
come up alid stated positively that my trail had been fol- 


lowed in that direction, and that the citizens were or 
dered out to assist in the search. 

After getting something to eat and feed for our 
horses we started on, and by daylight the next morn 
ing we were safely housed in a cave among the Pike 
Run hills, in the northern part of St. Francois county. 

Here we remained but one day ; as soon as darkness 
approached we proceeded on into Jefferson county un 
til ten o clock, when we stopped at the house of a 
friend who gave us our suppers and treated us so well 
that the night was half spent before we started on. 
Our friend warned us very pressingly against going 
any further in the direction of De Soto, but we deter 
mined not to retreat until real danger was apparent. 
But unfortunately we had consumed too much time, and 
did not reach the part of the country where we de 
signed taking up quarters for the day, and while mak 
ing a forced march between daylight and sunrise on an 
old unfrequented road near the top of a ridge where 
we designed taking up quarters, we suddenly ran into 
a company of Federal soldiers who were coming to 
ward us. 

They charged us on sight and in good earnest, firing 
a volley at us, but we miraculously escaped unhurt, but 
several of us carried off some respectable holes in our 
clothing. Their charge was really furious, and caused 
us to scatter in every direction, and after a hasty and 
precipitate retreat of perhaps a mile and a half, I ven 
tured to stop and take a look at my surroundings ; the 
last fifteen minutes of my life passed off in such a 
"whiz" that I hardly knew where I was/ and I was 


very certain that I did not know where my men were; 
but I felt very well over the fact that there were no 
Federal soldiers in sight. 

I was not long in planning my course ; a place had 
been designated by me in the Pike Run hills for us to 
meet in an emergency of this kind, and I struck 
out for the spot, traveling very cautiously and keeping 
in the thickest timbered country all the time. 

Arriving at the place late in the evening, I found 
one of my men who had gained the spot a short 
time before me. Here we remained waiting in anx 
ious suspense until after dark, and had almost come 
to the conclusion that the other men had been cap 
tured or killed when they came up. They had got to 
gether soon after the stampede, and not being very 
well acquainted with the country they had been lost, 
and when night overtook them they pressed a pilot 
into their service whom they discovered passing along 
the road, and compelled him to accompany them to 
the place. The pilot I knew very well, and after de 
ceiving him in regard to the course we designed tak 
ing, we released him under the promise that he would 
not report us. 

As we were now destined to be hunted down like 
the wild beasts of the forest, we resolved to get out of 
the country as quick as possible and over some country 
not traveled by us heretofore. "We started in a west- 
wardly direction, and after traveling a few miles stop 
ped at the house of a friend for our suppers. 

Crossing the Iron Mountain railroad south of Black- 
well s Station, we gained the vicinity of the Old Mines, 


in Washington county, before it was yet light, 
we took up quarters for the day. One of my men being 
acquainted in the neighborhood, we had 1*0 trouble 
in getting our necessary provisions and horse feed. 

While we made our brief sojourn in this locality an 
incident worth relating occurred, which was very amus 
ing to us, and may not be uninteresting to the reader. 
About ten o clock in the forenoon, while it was my 
turn to stand orr picket I sauntered through the thick 
fcrush down to the main road, distant about two hun 
dred yards, and suddenly ran on to- a German who was 
sitting near the road side, sheltered from the sun by 
aome brush. I discovered him before he saw me. He 
held in his hancJ an old double-barreled shot gun. As 
he had on an old suit o-f Federal uniform, my first im 
pulse was to draw my revolver, which I did in an in 
stant. As soon as the German saw me he sprang to 
his feet, let his old gun fall to the ground and threw 
np his hands. Seeing that I was dressed in Federal uni 
form, he immediately cried out that he was all right/* 
and began in a hurried, broken gibberish to give an 
account of himself; that he was from De Soto, and was 
going to a saw mill west of Potosi; that he was a dis 
charged Union soldier; that Sam Hildebrand was in 
the country about De Soto, and that he was afraid to 
stay there on that account. At this I advanced toward 
him and extended my hand, saying- as I did so that I 
was really a little frightened, that I thought he was 
Sam Hildebrand himself when I first saw him ; that I 
would not hurt him if he was a Union man, but that I 
eame very near shooting him under the mistaken idea 


that lie was Hildebrand. He laughed heartily at the 
coincident and was quite merry over the happy turn 
that the affair had taken. 

I told him that I had some men stationed back in 
the woods on one of Hildebrand s old trails, and that 
foe could go with me and form one of my party for the 
day, to which he gladly consented, manifesting a great 
deal of gratitude. As we made our way cautiously to 
the camp through the thick brush I told him that he 
was running a great risk in traveling through that 
portion of country, for it was one of Hildebrand s 
main passways. 

On coming up to the boys in camp he did not wait 
for an introduction, but stepped in ahead of me and 
shook hands with them all in the greatest glee, telling 
as he did so a great many things he knew about "Sam 

The boys seemed to understand the matter perfectly 
well without any explanations from me, and humored 
the joke very well by asking the most absurd ques 
tions about my barbarity; but none of the questions 
were too hard, for he answered them all, making it ap 
pear that I was a blood-thirsty barbarian, without an 
equal in the world s history. 

It was not until sometime during the afternoon that 
we undeceived him in regard to the true nature of 
things j it was sometime before he could comprehend 
the sudden change, or be made to believe that he was 
really in my hands. But as he gradually became con 
vinced of the fact he began a series of lies that would 
shamed u Baron Muncha-usen" himself, We 


stopped him, short, however, and told him that if he 
would not report us for one month we would let him 
go, at which he sprang at me, seizing my hand with 
both of his, he pledged himself and swore by all that 
was holy and righteous that he never would report us 
while he lived. He shook hands with us all and 
started, looking hack every ten feet until he was out 
of sight, then he seemed to double his speed until he 
was out of hearing. 

While the sun was yet an hour high we started on 
our way, keeping in the woods until dark, then pass 
ing west of Potosi, by traveling all night, we reached 
a point near the town of Centreville, in Reynolds 
county, where we obtained feed for ourselves and 

In traveling down Black river late on evening we 
ran into a squad of Federals, six in number, whom we 
charged in a furious manner, firing on them with our 
revolvers. They did not return our fire, but ran most 
gloriously. We killed one and captured two more; 
those we captured stated that they belonged to Leeper s 
command; this being the case of course we shot them. 

We took their horses and arms, made another 
night s journey, and arrived safely in Green county, 
Arkansas. There 1 found a dispatch for me from Gen. 
Sterling Price, requesting me to take charge of the 
advance guard of his army, as he was "going up to 
possess Missouri," to which I most gladly cor sen ted on 
conditions that I would be ; released as | soon as we 
should reach the vicinity of my old home on B*g river. 



Commanded the advance guard in Price s raid. The Federals burn 
Doniphan. Routed them completely. Captured some at Patter 
son. Killed Abright at Farmington. Left Price s army. 
Killed four Federals. Maj. Montgomery storms Big River 
Mills. Narrow escape from capture. 

It is not my purpose to give a history of Price s 
raid into Missouri farther than to narrate a few facts 
connected with my own operations. 

In September, 1864, by request, I took charge of 
the advance guard after all arrangements were made 
for the grand campaign. The dispatch that came to 
me, having stated that General Price designed tak 
ing Missouri and holding it, I felt that a great honor 
was conferred upon me, and was pleased beyond 
measure with the prospect of being once more 
enabled to triumph over my enemies and to peacea 
bly establish myself at the home of my childhood, 
among the blissful scenes of my earlier years. 

While these day-dreams were passing through my 
excited imagination, I repaired to the designated 
point and found that my command consisted of a 
party of ragged Missourians, about forty in number) 
some of whom I knew. Keeping pace with the main 
body of the army, we traveled not more than fifteen 
miles each day. Nothing of importance occurred 
until we reached the town of Doniphan in liipley 
county, Missouri ; when, on approaching the place, 


we discovered large volumes of smoke arising from 
the town. We put spurs to our horses and hastened 
into the place as soon as possible ; finding that the 
Federals in evacuating the place, had set fire to 
every house but one, and that belonged to a Federal 
officer, we concluded that it had better burn also 
We arrived in time to save the mill which seemed 
to have burned very slowly. It appears that 
McNeal s and Leeper s men were on their way to 
burn up our Green County Confederacy, but ascer 
taining that Price was on his march for Missouri 
they set fire to the town and decamped. We pur 
sued and overtook them before they got to Green 
ville, had a little skirmish, lost two men killed and 
four wounded, captured sixteen Federals and shot 
them, rushed on to the town of Patterson, captured 
eleven negroes and seven white men in Federal uni 
form and shot them. While the main army ad 
vanced slowly I scouted in front of it with my com 
mand ; but Federals and Union men were very 
scarce ; I still held the advance however, passing 
through Greenville, Bloomfield, Fredericktown and 
Farmington; all of which were evacuated before 
our arrival, and through which I passed with my 
force without molesting any one with one exception- 
On reaching Farmington no resistance was offered 
the people were somewhat alarmed, but all surren 
dered quietly except a German, named Abright, 
who ran when we approached, refused to halt, and 
was shot of course. 
Finally, reaching the Iron Mountain Railroad at 


Mineral Point, we tore up the road, burned several 
bridges, and tore down the telegraph ; but finding 
no one to kill, I left the command, according to pre 
vious agreement, and hastened to the neighborhood 
of my personal enemies. Finding none of them 
there to kill I employed myself in recruiting for the 
Southern army, and succeeded in the short space of 
six days in getting a full company, who were sworn 
in, and under Capt. Holmes went into the Southern 
service. While laboring for the cause of the South 
I was at the residence of Maj. Dick Berryman at the 
stone house in Bogy s Lead Mines, near Big river, 
with a portion of Capt. Holmes men, when four 
Federals who had escaped from the fort at Ironton 
during the siege, came along the road ; with but lit 
tle difficulty we effected their capture, shot them 
and threw their bodies into a mineral hole. 

The main army did not remain long in our section 
of country ; Gen. Price indeed was a great military 
chieftain, but his present campaign through Mis 
souri seemed to lack design ; from the time he en 
tered the State until he left it, he garrisoned no 
posts in the rear. Pilot Knob, the terminus of the 
railroad from St. Louis and the depot for supplies 
for all Southeast Missouri was taken, and then 
abandoned on the next day; he made his way to 
Missouri river and then up that stream in the direc 
tion of Kansas for several hundred miles without 
molestation leaving St. Louis, the great commer 
cial key of the West, almost "spoiling to be 
taken." The great Missouri chieftain left St. Louig 


to his right, while the heavy force at that place 
were quietly taking possession of the abandoned 
posts in his rear, If he had joined the "Indepen 
dent Bushwhacking Department of the Confederate 
States of America" with all his men, in less than 
thirty days there would not have been a Federal 
soldier west of the Mississippi. While Maj. Berry, 
man and a few other officers stayed in St. Francois 
county recruiting, the main army gained the 
Missouri river and was quietly making a blind 
march in the direction^of Idaho. 

The Federal forces took possession of the Iron 
Mountain railroad, and on one pleasant afternoon 
in October, our new recruits armed with their shot 
guns and squirrel rifles were run into by Maj. Mont 
gomery of the Sixth Missouri Cavalry and complete 
ly routed, in which their loss was seven killed and 
all the balance missing. Montgomery also killed 
several citizens, whose names were Fite, Yandover, 
and Judge Haile, the father of Irvine M. Haile, who 
was previously murdered by Milks men. 

On the day before Maj. Montgomery routed the 
new recruits at Big River Mills, 1 went with some 
men to Cadet on the railroad and took from the 
store of Mr. Kellerman a wagon load of goods which 
I delivered up to Maj. Berryman, who distributed 
them among his men. Maj. Montgomery, with two 
companies of the Sixth Missouri Cavalry, struck our 
trail and followed us nearly into camp ; but when 
he ran into the pickets they obeyed the orders I 
had previously given, and ran in a different direction 


from the camp, thereby leading the Federals away 
from our squad of raw recruits, and giving them 
time to escape. I was not at Big River Mills when 
Montgomery stormed the place, but was at St. Jo 
seph Lead Mines, when he passed. I was sitting on 
my horse talking to a lady, when the first thing that 
I saw of them they were within a few yards of me ; 
I assumed an air of unconcern and continued the 
conversation ; on discovering that they were eyeing 
me very closely, I turned my horse and rode within 
a few feet of the column in the direction they were 
going, talking back to the lady until I was too far off 
to continue the conversation. I then found myself 
near a lieutenant whom I addressed as captain, ask 
ing him in a very awkward manner if he was going 
to Big River Mills to drive the Rebels off, which he 
answered in the affirmative. I told him that I would 
like to help if I had a gun, but he told me very 
curtly that he wanted no men who were not drilled. 
My horse seemed to be a little lame and I gradually 
fell back, talking all the time to the man opposite 
me until the last one had passed. I kicked and 
"cussed" my horse to try to keep up but I could not 
do it. On getting about one hundred yards behind 
I availed myself of an opportunity at a turn in the 
road and took to the woods ; the lameness of my 
horse was very much improved, but I could not beat 
them into the town; however,! knew that the pick 
ets would lead them off some other way. They did 
so, but were overtaken and killed at the ford above 
the mill pond. 


The new recruits were within hearing of the guns 
and "broke for tall timber." The short sojourn of 
the Confederate forces in Missouri was indeed a 
severe blow to the course I had marked out for 
myself. In my excited imagination I had raised the 
veil and looked down the vista of time, beheld the 
Southern arms triumphant, our country again re 
stored to peace and prosperity, and my little family 
and my aged mother leaning upon my arm for sup 
port at the old homestead, surrounded by all the 
endearments of our once happy days. But I was 
awakened from my dream by the unhappy termina 
tion of Price s raid; it impressed my mind very 
forcibly with the fact that the people of Missouri 
were tired of the war and would sacrifice but little 
more at the shrine of their political convictions. In 
fact a large majority of them were compelled by 
circumstances beyond their control to remain at 
home and take their chances. The atrocities com 
mitted in their midst by men professing Union sen 
timents finally failed to elicit from them a casual 

When the war began, the American people were 
untutored in regard to the cruelties of war; in fact, 
I am inclined to the opinion that there was not a 
nation upon earth which had formed the most re 
mote conception of the cruelties of the American 
people, with all their boasted moral and religious 
training. Even the words of political bias expressed 
in times of peace, many years before the war com 
menced, while yet almost the whole nation was of 


the same opinion, were treasured up and resurrec 
ted against certain citizens, for which their lives 
were taken. 

From a contemplation of this unwelcome eubject 
I turned my mind, and through my native woods 1 
traveled alone to my home in Arkansas, with my 
fond hopes crushed, and my spirits below zero. 



Selected three men and went to Missouri to avenge the death of 
Rev. William Polk. Got ammunition in Fredericktown. Killed 
the German who informed on Polk. Returned to Arkansas. 

After recruiting our horses and making all neces 
sary arrangements for the comfort and convenience 
of my family in my absence, I selected three men 
and started to Madison county, Missouri, for the ex 
press purpose of killing the German who reported 
on preacher Polk, and by whose instigation his mur 
der, by the Union soldiers, had been brought about. 

That venerable Baptist minister, William Polk, 
was about seventy years of age, and had been 
preaching for about forty years. As a Christian of 
unquestionable piety no man ever stood higher; as 
a citizen his conduct was irreproachable, and as to 
his loyalty and patriotism it never before was 
brought into question. From his lips no word had 
ever dropped that could be construed into an ex 
pression of sympathy for the Southern rebellion. 

In the latter part of October, 1864, three Federal 
soldiers rode up to his house to rob him first and 
then kill him. 

They demanded his money which he gave up, 
amounting to twenty dollars, he told them that he 
had no more, at which they replied that twenty dol 
lars was not enough to save his life. 


They took him out of the yard, when a Federal 
soldier by the name of Robert Manning shot him 
through the head. 

Believing that the German informer was the most 
guilty one in this transaction, I was willing to at 
tempt his capture even at this inclement season of 
the year. 

Camping out in the woods was disagreeable; 
stopping at the houses of our friends at night was 
extremely dangerous; and if a snow should happen 
to fall, thereby exposing our trail to the Federals 
we would be under the necessity of running a horse 
race for nearly two hundred miles. 

On reaching the St. Francis we found it consider 
ably swollen from recent rains higher up the river. 
I proceeded at once to swim it, and arrived safely 
at the opposite bank, but my three men having en 
tered the river too near together their horses 
crowded each other, which caused them to beat 
down with the current until one of my men named 
Swan washed into a drift and carne near being 
drowned before I could pull off my coat and boots 
and swim to his rescue. I got to him in time to pulJ 
him out on to a drift, but his horse washed under it 
and we saw him no more. 

After we had all got over we built a fire, dried 
our clothes and camped for the night. 

Swan did not feel well the next morning, so he 
concluded to make an effort to get back to head 
quarters, while we proceeded on with our journey, 


traveling only twenty or twenty-five miles per day, 
stopping with our friends on the way. 

On reaching Madison county we began to look out 
for Federal squads, as there were two or three hun 
dred troops quartered in Fredericktown. My am 
munition was getting very scarce and I felt as 
though I would be compelled to stop and see my 
old friends in town. We secreted ourselves and 
horses about a mile from the place, and as daylight 
was near at hand we had to lay over for the day ; 
on the following night I made my way cautiously, 
and crawled into an alley near the residence of my 
friend, when a dog espied me and tried to make me 
retreat; I tried to negotiate with him, offering him 
as I thought everything that was fair, but all to no 
purpose. About ten o clock, all things being favor 
able, I went around to the opposite side of town and 
started in through an open street, walking leisurely, 
but kesping near the buildings. When I had got 
fairly into town I came suddenly on a Federal picket 
at the corner of a block, who accosted me by in 
quiring : " Where are you going, Bill ? " I answered 
in a whisper "after some whisky ;" "all right" said 
he, "bring a fellow a snort." By this time I was out 
of whispering distance, and soon came to a large 
saloon on the corner, passed around to the other 
side which was closed up, and amused myself seve 
ral minutes in looking in at the window. I saw 
quite a number of the Federals, some playing cards, 
some amusing themselves in various ways, and all 
of them seemed to be enjoying themselves very 


well. I made my way to the house of my friend, 
climbed over the plank fence, and gave a peculiar 
wrap at the back door which was well understood. 
I got a lunch, some good brandy, plenty of ammuni 
tion, rations to last two days, and some very impor 
tant information. I went out through the alleys as 
a matter of choice, the smaller dogs being posted in 
thei alleys and the larger ones in the streets. As 
the night was half spent we went into the neighbor 
hood of Mr. O Banyon and camped in the woods un 
til the next evening, when we made our way over to 
the German s who was accused of laying the plot 
for the murder of Elder Polk. 

Dressed in Federal uniform, we rode up to his 
house as the sun was going down, were taken for 
Federal soldiers and received with a great deal of 
cordiality. We had talked to him but a short time 
when the subject of u Preacher. Polk" was intro 
duced. The German in a boastful manner gave us 
the history of his transactions in the matter, fully 
confirming his complicity in the murder. We 
marched him off into the woods near the farm of 
Mr. North, where I talked all the Dutch language 
to him that I knew, and after giving him distinctly 
to understand that "hog killing time" had come, I 
shot him. 

As soon as it was dark we rode back to the sub 
urbs oi Fredericktown for the purpose of silencing 
a Union citizen of that place who had made himself 
rather officious in reporting citizens for disloyalty, 


and for accusing certain ones of having fed "Sam 

I left one of my men with the horses, and taking 
the other, I went into town and knocked at the door, 
our call was answered by a lady who innocently 
told us that the man for whom we inquired had gone 
to St. Louis, at which we politely bid her good night 
and left the town. We hurried on to Castor creek to 
the house of a friend whose hospitalities we enjoyed 
for several days, while we were endeavoring by 
every means in our power to take in a certain man 
who lived in that neighborhood; but the excite 
ment we had raised by squelching the German ren 
dered our intended victim very shy. Finally we 
went to his house just after dark one night and 
called for him, but his wife declared that he was not 
at home. We made a diligent search through every 
room, but not finding him we started for Cape Gir- 
ardeau county for the purpose of obtaining some 
supplies for the winter. We succeeded in getting 
all that we could conveniently pack, and started for 
Arkansas. We saw but one squad of Federals on 
our homeward trip ; we were passing through Stod- 
dard county, east of Bloomfie.ld, when a party of 
about ten came up behind us, but they fired upon 
us before they got near enough to do any harm, 
and by taking to the woods we made our escape. 
They might easily have compelled us to throw away 
our goods to facilitate our flight, if they had felt 
disposed to continue the pursuit. As it was they 
never got in sight of us any more, and although our 


horses were much jaded we made very good time 
until dark and then proceeded on more slowly. 
We swam the St. Francis without much trouble and 
landed home safely. 

I found my wife and children well, but Mr. Swan, 
whom I had rescued from the turbid waters of the 
St. Francis had sickened and died during our ab 
sence, and had been buried a few hours before our 



Started with eight men on a trip to Arkansas river. Hung a 
"Scallawag" on White rive) Went into Conway county. 
Treachery of a negro on Point Remove. "Foot burning" atro 
cities. Started back and hung a renegade. 

During the early part of the winter of 1864, sev 
eral persons from the vicinity of Levvisburg, Arkan 
sas, came to our Headquarters and reported trouble 
with the negroes and scallawags in that part of the 

Lewisburgis a small town on the north side of the 
Arkansas river, about fifty miles above Little Rock ; 
the country around this place is very fertile, and be 
fore the war, was inhabited by a wealthy class of 
farmers of the highest cast of honor and intelli 
gence, the most of whom owned a large number of 
slaves. It seems that as soon as the ordinance 
emancipating the slaves was enforced in that part 
of the country, several scallawags from the free 
States, slipped in among the negroes, whose especial 
duty seemed to be to incite the negroes to deeds of 

About Lewisburg they seemed to have been very 
successful in their mission as insurrectionists, and 
the continued reports from that quarter convinced 
us that a short campaign among them during the 
winter might be beneficial. In January, 1865, I 


started with eight men, we passed through Law 
rence and Independence counties, and on reaching 
the beautiful country bordering on White river, 
which had been in a high state of cultivation before 
the war, but now sadly neglected, we approached 
near the town of Batesville, when we learned that 
two or three of the very animals we were hunting 
for were in that " neck of the woods." I left six of 
my men with our horses in a dense thicket, and 
three of us started out separately to visit the negro 

I had not proceeded far before I entered a dirty 
cabin of "colored people," whom I greeted very 
warmly. The household consisted of an old man 
and woman, each about sixty years of age, and about 
six others who were grown. The old man treated 
me with great politeness, and would persist in call 
ing me " Massa," notwithstanding my repeated ob 
jections. I talked to them some time on the subject 
of their freedom ; the old man gave me distinctly 
to understand that he considered their condition 
much worsted by the change; but the youngsters 
seemed to be in a high glee over their future pros 
pects. I succeeded in gaining their confidence by 
professing intense loyalty to their cause, and ascer 
tained beyond all doubt that a " Bosting man " had 
been through the neighborhood to obtain their 
names and their pledges to support him for Con 
gress as soon as the war should close, with the 
solemn promise from him that he would have all the 



land and the property of the whites confiscated and 
given to them. 

One of the boys showed me a paper which he said 
was a certificate that he was to be the owner of the 
Anthony House in Little Rock. On inquiring where 
I could find my " Bosting brother," they told me that 
he was "down about Lewisburg raising money from 
the Rebels to build school houses for the colored 

After intimating that I was an officer of the Freed- 
man s Bureau, I was about to depart, when a tall, 
lank specimen of a genuine Eastern philanthropist 
made his appearance at the door. After being as 
sured that I was " all right," he remarked that he 
had been in the neighborhood several days, and had 
made out a report of all the property which would 
be confiscated as soon as he returned to Washing 
ton. He proceeded to draw it out from the lining 
of his hat and handed it to me to read, 1 fumbled 
about in my pockets for some time, and then re 
marked that I had lost my spectacles ; he then took 
the paper and read it with a great deal of pomposi 
ty, commenting occasionally on the names as he 
read them off. 

I sanctioned the report heartily, and told him 
that it was bound to win. He then remarked to the 
negroes that any assistance they could render him 
in the way of money matters, would be thankfully 
received, as he was working for their good alone. 
They contributed all the money they had, which I 
think amounted to about six dollars. I arose to de- 


part, stating that I had promised to take dinner with 
some colored friends about a mile from there, and 
insisted that my " brother missionary" accompany 
me, to which he readily consented. 

During our walk he laid before me many of his 
plots and plans, which fully convinced me that he 
designated to excite the minds of the negroes with 
the hope of ultimately expelling all the white peo 
ple from the State, except their immediate friends 
from the North. 

We finally arrived at the place, but it proved to 
be a Rebel camp instead of a negro cabin. On com 
ing up to the boys my missionary seemed to be bad 
ly alarmed, but made no show of resistance. We 
hung the scallawag to a limb, where he remained 
until we got our dinner, then we took him down and 
threw him into a hole of water, with a large stone 
tied to his feet. We crossed White river at a ferry 
several miles below Batesville, immediately after 
which we came suddenly upon a company of twenty 
armed men dressed in citizen s clothes* As we were 
not posted in regard to the state of affairs in that 
part of the State, we were utterly at a loss to know 
to which side they belonged in this war. 

We were first seen by a tall, awkward looking 
specimen of humanity, who stepped out in front of 
us and questioned us about who we were and where 
we were going. 

He held in his hand a double-barreled gun large 
enough to have killed all eight of us at one fire. 
Without answering his questions, as we wished to 


take items before committing ourselves, " asked 
"where is your Captain?" He replied thai he was 
going to serve as captain himself, and immediately 
made a remark that led us to understand that they 
were merely a party starting out on a "bear hunt." 

At night we stopped at the Round Fond, and as 
certained that there was but little Union sentiment 
in that part of the State, and that we would meet 
with no trouble from the Federals until we got into 
the counties bordering on Arkansas river. We 
avoided a military camp at Clinton, not knowing 
to a certainty whether they were Rebels or not. 

We had no source of information upon which we 
could explicitly rely. On arriving in Conway coun 
ty we stayed all night with an old gentleman on 
Point Remove ; but being fearful that our horses 
might be stolen, we concluded to sleep under a shed 
between the stable and the smokehouse. 

About one o clock in the night we saw two ne 
groes approaching the smoke house very cautiously ; 
after some little time they succeeded in removing a 
log, when one of them crawled in. We made an at 
tempt to arrest the one on the outside, but he got 
away, followed by two shots, which, however, 
missed him. A great consternation was produced 
in the house, and out the old man came with alight. 
On taking our prisoner out he made a clean breast 
of it; he confessed that he belonged to a band of 
eight negroes, who were camped on the bank of Ar 
kansas river, between Point Remove and Gilmore s 
Landing; that they were led by a white XT: an, and 


were in the habit of robbing white people, and mak 
ing them tell where their money was concealed by 
burning their feet. 

On the next morning he consented to pilot us to 
the place where they were camped ; but instead of 
taking us directly to the place, he took us a mile 
around through the cane, and finally brought us 
back to within two hundred yards of where we had 
been before, and then pointed to their camp. Here 
it was, sure enough, but the bird s had flown. 

For this trick the body of a dead negro was soon 
discovered floating down the muddy river. 

I was much mortified in thus failing to squelch the 
foot-burning scallawag who was lea ding the negroes 
on to such acts of cruelty ; but he succeeded in get 
ting away and is no doubt by this time in Congress. 

After remaining in the woods a few miles from 
Lewisb urg for several days without being able to do 
any good toward ferreting out the " foot-burners," we 
started back through VanBuren and Izard counties 
without molesting any one until we got near a little 
town called Mount Olive, where we captured a man 
whom we accidentally met in the road. Several of 
my men knew him, and stated that he had been run 
off from Bloomfield, Missouri, for professing loyalty 
during the second year of the war, and thus betray^ 
ing the confidence his neighbors had hitherto placed 
in him. He was also ac cused of having had a man 
shot near Bloomfield, by reporting on him; this 
accusation he virtually acknowledged after we had 
captured him. 



We took him a few hundred yards from the road, 
hung him to a lirnb, and proceeded on through Law 
rence county to our old headquarters. 

2 S 



Qloomy p-rospeets for the South. Takes a trip to Missouri toitk 
four menr Saved from capture by a woman. Visits his mother 
on Big river. Robs the ttore of J. V. Tyler at Big River Mills. 
Escape* to Arkansas. 

I had a long conversation with Capt. Bolin, who 
had just returned from an expedition on the head 
waters of Current river, concerning the probable 
termination of the war. 

He was a man of considerable intelligence, and I 
always noticed on his return from a raid his pockets 
were stuffed full of Yankee newspapers. 

I found him sitting on a log deeply absorbed in 
examining his miscellaneous pile of news. 

< c Well, Captain! what s the news from the North? 
Are they ready to give it up yet ?" 

< Give it up, indeed! Sam, the war is very near to 
a close." 

44 1 thought sol I knew they could not hold out 
much longer ; I suppose we have killed nearly half 
of them; I hope they will grin and bear it until we 
get another swipe at them! " 

" I rather think they will ! but Sam, it is the 
South which is going under; her fate is already 

" What makes you think so ?" 

44 1 think so because the great armies of the Con- 


federacy are crippled and almost annihilated ; their 
whole country is overrun and impoverished by im 
mense Northern armies ; I fear that our great chief 
tains, will be compelled to yield, and when they go 
under, our little fighting here must also stop." 

M Ah, Captain, you get that from your Yankee 
papers ; I can t believe anything that they contain." 

I must acknowledge however, that I was some 
what staggered by Capt. Bolin s candid remarks. I 
immediately selected four men, being determined 
to make another trip to see whether the Federals 
had literally swallowed up the whole country or not 

We made our way up Black river, thinking that 
we would be very likely to make the trip on that 
route without ever seeing a Federal. 

One evening, on the first day of March, 1865, after 
remaining in a thicket nearly all day, we concluded 
to approach the house of a friend with whom we 
had stopped on a previous trip. A terrible rain 
storm was coming up, and we thought we could 
leave our horses where they were and repair to the 
house for shelter until the rain should cease. 

Our friend was from home ; he had gone toward 
Springfield to look after his son whom he feared had 
been murdered by some of the roving bands of 
Federals. We learned from the good woman that 
none of the enemy had passed that road for a long 
time ; so feeling perfectly safe we repaired to the 
barn intending to get a little sleep, but took the 
precaution to crawl up into the loft and over the hay 
into a low place near the wall. 


Directly after dark we were awakened by the 
noise of a large empty wagon that was driven up to 
the barn, just under our window; on peeping out 
the truth flashed across our minds in an instant 
that not less than fifty Federal soldiers were in the 
barn yard all around us ; but on watching their 
maneuvers a few minutes, we .became satisfied that 
they knew nothing of our presence. 

The barn floor below us was soon fall of them, and 
in a few minutes eight or ten of them crawled up 
through the window on to the hay and rolled up in 
their blankets, between us and the window. Our 
escape seemed impossible; we could not slip out at 
the window without stepping on the soldiers; we 
might indeed lay still and escape detection for a 
while, but we knew full well that as soon as it was 
light enough they would load their wagon with the 
hay and be sure to discover us. For once I was at 
my wit s end. 

In this predicament we lay for two long hours, 
when all at once we heard the alarm of fire ; our 
good woman was calling lustily for help. In the 
corner of the yard about fifty feet from the house 
there stood a little cabin that had once been her 
dwelling house but which was now used as a kind of 
receptacle for old boxes and barrels. 

This house was in flames, and we learned after 
wards that she set it on fire herself to draw the sold 
iers from the barn so that we might effect our 
escape. In this she succeeded admirably ; every one 
broke for the fire and prevented it from catching 


the main building, while we made our escape with 
out any trouble whatever. We took a long breath 
of relief, mounted our horses and made one good 
night s travel. Passing near the town of Buford 
then west of Fredericktown, we arrived in the 
vicinity of Flat Woods and remained concealed in 
a thick forest during the day. In the ev< <nng, two 
of my men who were dressed in Federa uniform, 
wandered off from the camp and were discovered by 
a citizen named John Myers, who mistook them for 
Union soldiers and immediately commenced telling 
them how, thus far, he had succeeded in deceiving 
the Rebels. He handed them a sheet of paper on 
which he had written out a full report of his success 
in ferreting out the friends of Sam Hildebrand in 
that neighborhood. He stated that he was in the 
habit of reporting to the Rebels also, and to prove 
the matter he drew from his pocket a half worn 
paper purporting to be an account of the Federal 
movements in that section of country. He mani 
fested a great desire for my capture, and when they 
told him that I had actually been captured and was 
a prisoner at their camp near by, he waved his hat 
and shouted like an Indian. They brought him into 
camp to satisfy his curiosity ; but on discovering 
that I was not tied he started to retreat, but was 
stopped by my men. As soon as night began to ap 
proach we shot him and proceeded on toward Big 
river, but stopped in the pinery northwest from 
Farmington, where we remained two days. On 
leaving there we took supper with a friend near Big 


River Mills and proceeded down the river to the old 
Hildebrand homestead. 

During Price s raid into that section of country I 
left word for my enemies that they should build my 
mother another house at the old homestead in lieu 
of the one they had burned, otherwise, I would burn 
the last one of them out. Some of my friends how 
ever, seeing that they were slow about commencing 
it, and wishing perhaps to screen them, met together 
and in a very short time built her a cabin, which 
answered her purpose very well for a temporary 
abode. Into this cabin she removed, and there I 
found her on the night of March 6th, 1865. I left my 
men and horses in a secure place near by, and quiet 
ly approached the premises where once had been 
the happy home of my childhood. It was late in the 
night when I called at the door, but my mother had 
not yet retired; knowing my voice she laid her spec 
tacles upon her open bible where she had been 
reading, and softly opened the door. Her motherly 
arms entwined around my neck, the same arms that 
had so often lulled me to sleep in my innocent 
childhood, that had so often clasped me to her bosom 
and made me feel secure from all the dangers and 
storms of life. My heart beat strangely as all those 
dear scenes and all the events of my life in one 
short minute crowded through my memory. I could 
not help contrasting her own condition at that hap 
py period with the cheerless present. As sfie took 
her seat I could not help noticing the calm serenity 
of her countenance; a quiet resignation seemed to 


pervade her nature. Considering the terrible loss 
that her kind heart had sustained in the cruel death 
of her three boys, and in the utter uprooting of all 
her cherished hopes in this world, I was at a loss to 
account for it, and was about to express my wonder 
when she seemed to divine my thoughts before my 
question was formed, and with a slight motion of 
her hand toward the bible, she said in a faltering 
tone: "My dear boy! you are more unhappy than 
I am ! " The remark was so true, that I wished I had 
the power to obliterate the past, and to commence 
life again as a little frolicsome boy around my 
mother s chair. 

I remained with her most of the time during the 
next day. It was her impression that the war was 
near its close; that the triumph of the Union cause 
was almost complete, and she insisted strongly that 
when the Southern soldiers should lay down their 
arms, that I with the rest would yield obedience to 
the government and claim its protection. 

I was so softened by this interview with my moth 
er, that I almost forgot my enemies ; and I made up 
my mind to return to Arkansas without killing any 
one if I could do so with safety to myself. 

But it was necessary that I and my men should 
take some goods with us, for our families, at this 
time, were rather needy; and believing that friends 
as well as foes should bear a part of the burden of 
our suffering families, inasmuch as all our energies 
had been directed to the accomplishment of an ob 
ject which they so strenuously contended was right, 


we concluded to make a small raid into the town of 
Big River Mills that my friends might still know we 
were on the war path. We started late in the eve 
ning and kept along the main road, arriving in town 
between sundown and dark. We went to the store 
of J. Y. Tyler, and helped ourselves to such articles 
as we actually needed. After mounting our horses 
we did not remain long to see the balance of our 
friends, but hurried on all that night to get as far 
beyond the gravel road at night as possible. 

We lay up to rest ourselves during the day; but 
about two o clock in the evening, we discovered a 
considerable force of Federals on our track; they 
came to the place where our trail commenced wind 
ing around the hill, and there they began to move 
very cautiously. 

I plainly saw from their movements that they had 
learned my trick of making a circuit before camp 
ing; this being the case I determined to escape by 
the same knowledge. We started very cautiously 
down the hill in an opposite direction, rode about 
three miles, made another circuit and went on in a 
great hurry. Every few miles we made a similar 
curve, but continued on, and by the time they had 
crept cautiously up to the last place we were far 
beyond their reach. 

We had no further trouble with the Federals, 
and reached Arkansas with all our goods. 



Started to Missouri with three men. Surrounded at night near 
Fredericktown. Narrow escape by a cunning device. Retired to 
Simms Mountain. Swapped horses with Robert Hill and cap 
tured some more. Killed Free Jim and kidnapped a negro boy. 

About the first of April, 1865, 1 started to Mis 
souri with four men, one of whom was Tom Haile. 
We passed west of Bloomfield, and made an attempt 
to take in a German living in the edge of Wayne 
county, whose name I never could pronounce. He 
had rendered himself rather obnoxious to us by his 
officiousness in carrying news to the Federal au 

On going up to his house about sunrise, thinking 
to find him asleep, we made no attempt at conceal 
ment, but marched directly up toward the front of 
his house; when we got within a hundred and fifty 
yards of the house he ran out and struck across a 
little field ; we fired our guns at him, shooting one 
at a time; every time we fired he squalled like a 
panther, which tickled Tom Haile so well he could 
not shoot, but laughed about as loud as the Dutch 
man yelled. We made no attempt to pursue him, as 
we cared very little about him any way. We 
marched on toward Fredericktown, reaching that 
place one morning about daybreak, and secreted 


ourselves for the day, during which time Haile went 
into Fredericktown. 

After tying up an old coat in a dirty cotton hand 
kerchief, and swinging it on a stick which he carried 
on his shoulder, he walked into town, passing him 
self off for a lame Irishman who wanted a job for a 
few days; he found some soldiers there, but did not 
learn their number. 

While in town he met several acquaintances who 
kindly passed him without recognition. 

It appears, however, that in the morning as we 
were passing Mr. Blake s farm we w^ere discovered 
by some one and reported to the soldiers. 

A company was ordered out to guard a gap where 
we were in the habit of passing, and we distinctly 
heard their horses feet on the gravel road as they 
passed our retreat where we lay concealed in the 
thick forest awaiting the approach of night. 

Immediately after dark we started, but on cross 
ing the gravel road two shots were fired at us from 
a short distance; we dashed through the thick 
brush, but my horse soon got tangled in a grape 
vine, and the boys all left me, vainly endeavoring 
to get him along. ". 7 

The firing became very rapid. In riding through 
the thick tangled brush I made too much noise, an! 
the first thing I knew I was completely surrounded, 
though their lines as yet were at some distance. 

Having no time to lose I quickly dismounted, 
dropped the bridle rein over a snag, and ran back 
about one hundred yards ; I stepped behind a bush 


and remained very quiet, knowing if I fired they 
would see the flash of my pistol. 

They were closing up in regular order toward the 
point where my horse stood. I waited until they 
were within ten steps of me, then facing toward the 
horse which now gave a snort, I gave a few steps, 
then in a low but commanding tone, I cried out: 
"Advance with more caution ! they can hear you a 
mile !" By this time I was in their line, and under 
the pretense of correcting some irregularity in their 
movements, I stepped behind them and got away 
without creating the least suspicion. 

Being next discovered by the guard who were 
holding the horses, I told them that we had the 
bushwhackers all surrounded, and that to make a 
sure thing we must have more men. 

Mounting the best looking horse I could find by 
the dim light of the moon, I started toward Fred- 
ericktown in a great hurry; but when out of dan 
ger I changed my course for Simms mountain in St. 
Francois county, the place designated for our meet 
ing in case of trouble. 

The Federals probably captured my horse, but 
that was no loss to me, for I had obtained a much 
better one. 

I rode all night and a part of the next day by my 
self before I reached our place of rendezvous. My 
men were not there, and as the day wore away I be 
gan to fear that some misfortune had befallen them ; 
but they made their appearance after dark, and re 
ported that the Federals had given them a severe 


chase; immediately after which they met a squad 
of Federals who chased them the other way. 

Simms Mountain is a very high elevation of land 
scarcely ever visited except by hunters at certain 
seasons of the year. It looms up above the other 
hills, affording a fine view of the whole surrounding 
country. While we lay here Tom Haile took a trip to 
Iron Mountain to learn the news at the military camp, 
and to get some provisions. After getting near the 
place he left his horse and his arms in the woods, 
stopped at an old coal pit to smut his face and his 
hands, and then we-nt into town disguised as a col 
lier, of whom there were many in the neighbor*- 
hood. While purchasing some provisions at a store 
he le-arned that "five hundred soldiers had Sam 
Hildebrand suBrounded in a thicket from which it 
was impossible for him to escape." 

This was good news, for it would enable us to 
make a caid on Big river in broad daylight with per 
fect impunity. We passed down- Flat river during 
the latter part of the night, crossed Big river at the 
Haile Ford and rode into town just as the sun was 
rising. Finding no goods there that suited us we 
continued along the main road until we got to the 
residence of our good Union friend, Kobert Hill. 
We wished to make him a friendly visit and swap 
off some of our horses, for Tom Haile dissuaded me 
from doing him any personal injury. 

I took two of his best horses and left two in their 
place; we charged him some boot, but had to take 


it in clothing and such articles from the nouse as we 
could make use of. 

On leaving there we turned south and passed 
along the most public road four or five miles until 
we came to Nesbit Orton s. We took a fancy to a 
couple of mares that some neighbors had there, 
one belonging to Tom Highley and the other to 
Tom Crunkleton. The mare, however, which we 
took from the latter did not like Rebels, for on get 
ting a few miles I concluded that she would make a 
splendid war horse ; but she threw all my men, one 
at a time, and when I was about to try my luck she 
gave a snort, broke away from us and made her es 

Tom Haile had remained behind to visit some of 
his friends on Big river, and did not overtake us un 
til we got to Cook settlement. 

I and my other men continued to travel along the 
road until we reached the shanty belonging to an 
old free negro by the name of Jim. He had made 
himself the dread of Southern sympathizers in his 
neighborhood by frequentlv visiting the different 
military posts with various charges against them, 
such as feeding bushwhackers, etc. 

To satisfy myself in regard to his complicity in 
the matter, we rode up to his cabin, each one being 
dressed in Federal uniform. 

On calling him out I gave him a hearty shake of 
the hand, and inquired if he had learned anything 
more about that man Madkins he was telling me 
about at the Knob; at this the old negro imagined 


thai he recognized me as Col. - , and asked me 
what I had done with my shoulder-straps ; to which 
I replied that I wanted to find out a few things for 
myself, and enjoined secrecy on him in regard to 
my disguised appearance. 

He made charges against several of the best men 
in the neighborhood, which was calculated to con 
sign them to summary punishment according to 
Federal usage. 

After making his statements, he asked me if I was 
still willing to take his son for a waiting boy; I told 
him that I was, and that I designed taking him along 
with me this time, having brought a horse for that 
purpose. He called the boy out and told him to 
mount the horse, which he at first refused to do ; 
but after I had got the old negrcr to mount another 
horse for the purpose of going with us a few miles, 
the boy consented and seemed very well recon 

After going about two* miles I shot old Jim, but 
took the boy on with us. 

We stopped near the residence of Francis Clark, 
in Cook settlement, to get our dinners; and while 
there some Federals came along, but seeing us they 
turned off the road and went around without mo 
lesting us. We proceeded on without any further 
trouble, but traveled altogether in the night. 

On reaching the St. Francis we found it still out 
of its banks; we, however, succeeded in swimming 
it by resting our horses on an island about half way. 
From there we arrived safely at home, and for the 


first time in my life I owned a negro. I was to all 
intents and purposes a genuine slaveholder. 

Immediately after I left Big river on my last raid, 
Robert Hill became satisfied that, as I took his 
horses, he could no longer pass himself off for a 
Rebel and a Union man at the same time. He was 
a member both of the "Knights of the Golden 
Circle" and the "Union League." A few days after 
I " swapped horses " with him, he went before the 
provost marshal, at Potosi, and represented that in 
consequence of his Union sentiments he could not 
live at home on Big river without a band of soldiers 
for his protection. 

Failing, however, in his purpose, he went to Iron- 
ton and made a similar statement to the provost 
marshal at that place. Certain Union men, how 
ever, who knew all the facts in the case, represented 
the whole matter as arising from personal enmity 
against Dr. A. W. Keith ^nd others. 

Thwarted again in his designs, he was left a few 
days to muse over his misfortunes; but a bright 
idea finally came to his relief: He would expose the 
"Knights of the Golden Circle," and consign his 
brother members to an indiscriminate butchery ! 

The war was nearly at an end ; the Union cause 
was about to triumph ; and one string was enough 
to play on during the balance of the struggle. He 
would startle the world by his disclosures; the 
earth should be dumbfounded, and mankind should 
stand aghast at the magnitude of his revelations! 
He sought and obtained a private interview with 

SAAILLL t>. mLDiUKAM . 271 

the provost marshal. At this time the sun was 
serenely smiling upon the eart^; spring had just 
made her advent, and was strewing garlands of 
flowers along the meadows and sunny hillsides, as 
if nothing was about to happen ; and men through 
out the world, unmindful of what was about to take 
place, were plodding on in their daily pursuits. 

All things being now ready, he told the marshal 
that he was a member of the Union League. This 
announcement was a satisfactory proof of his loy 
alty, for this Northern KuKlux League was insti 
tuted to save the National Union secretly. 

He then stated that, for the good of his country, 
he had also joined the Knights of the Golden Circle ; 
that the Circle met at the house of Joseph Herrod, 
on Big river, and that many of the leading men in 
that neighborhood were members. 

The patriotic motives of Robert Hill will be very 
apparent to the reader, when I state that at the out 
break of the rebellion, when he joined the Golden 
Circle, he was a slaveholder, and utterly pro-slavery 
in sentiment. 

How pure, then, must have been his motives 
when, for the good of his country, even at that early 
day, he bound himself with oaths like adamant for 
the purpose of finally exposing the Circle, as soon 
as it should have run its race and become defunct ! 

If the Southern Confederacy had won, his patriot 
ism would have prompted him to expose the Union 
League ; and when the last expiring beacon of Fed 
eral hope was about to be extinguished, he probably 


would have called for troops to crush the members 
of the Union League to which he belonged ! 

The representations he made to the provost mar 
shal had the desired effect ; a telegram was sent 
to Col. Beverage, at Cape Girardeau, who sent Lieu 
tenant Brown, with forty men, to Big River Mills. 

The statement made by Hill, however, needed 
confirmation. It was desirable to prove the charges 
by some one whose word, on account of the color 
of his skin, could never for a moment be doubted. 

A negro man by the name of Buck Poston lived 
in the neighborhood ; his skin was black enough for 
him to be considered perpetually under oath, so 
they repaired immediately to his domicil, for the 
purpose of implicating certain persons as belonging 
to the Golden Circle. 

Brown and his men put a rope around his neck, 
and tried to frighten him into a belief that he would 
be hung unless he confirmed Hill s statements. But 
Buck was a brave man, and answered "no" to each 
one of Hill s accusations against his neighbors. 

Finally they told him that he was now about to 
be hung, and appealed to him to know if he did not 
love his wife and children, and urged him just to 
say "yes," and live; but the old man replied: 
"Well, Massa, I does know some little things ; but 
I s gwine to take it all to t other world with me ! " 
Neither persuasions, threats, the glittering of bay 
onets, nor the prospect of death, could make him 
divulge anything. 

The color of his skin, however, saved his life, and 


his tormentors had nothing to do but to return 
to camp. During the night follow in g he gave warn 
ing to those whom he knew to be in dang er. 

On the next day, May 1 , 1805, Lieut. Brown took 
four men, rode up to the house of Mr. Jo^ph Her- 
rod, and iound him at home. They order* d him to 
get his horse and go with them to Farrnington. He 
did so, but on getting half a mile from the house-, 
they took him twenty or th : rty steps from the road 
arid shot him through the bick of the head. There 
they left him, where he was found the next day. 

Thus perished a young man who, for ki ndness of 
heart, strict integrity, and moral honesty had no 
superiors, and but few equals. 

Before proceeding any further with the slaughter, 
Lieut. Brown went and consulted with Franklin 
Murphy, who told him that the whole matter was 
the resu It of a neighborhood difficulty, which did not 
warrant Federal interference in any manner what 

Brown and his men, during their stay on Big 
river, were engaged in a wholesale robbery and 
plunder of the citizens, taking their property with 
out even a promise to pay. Their depredations 
were even more intolerable than the same number 
of hostile Indians would have been ; but after 
Brown had been better informed as to the true na 
ture of affairs he became half civilized, and on tak 
ing property he gave government vouchers. These 
debts against the government, however, were finally 
rejected, the people having been reported as dis- 

274 --aiOBIOGKAPliY OF 

loyal. Even the widow Baker lost over one hun 
dred dollars by some one reporting her as a Southern 

After feasting off of the neighborhood for about 
two months, Brown and his infamous band of van 
dals took their departure. The conspiracy, founded 
on the marvelous revelation of a broken oath, and 
emanating fram the fertile brain of base malignity, 
suddenly collapsed. 



Trip to Missouri with four men. Attempt to rob Taylor s store. 
Fight with Lieut. Brown and his soldiers. Killed Miller 
and Johnson at Flat Woods. Return home from his last 
raid. The war is pronounced to be at an end. Reflections 
on the termination of the war. Mrs. Hildebrand s advice. 
The parole at Jacksonport. 

When the war first broke out* in Missouri, and 
after the persecutions against ^the Hildebrand fam 
ily had become so intolerable that I was compelled 
to flee the country, I owed a small debt to D. W. 
Taylor, a merchant living at Valley s Mines, in Jef 
ferson county. 

After the mob had destroyed my property and 
driven me into the Southern army for protection, it 
was impossible forme to pay the, debt during the 

In all communities there are "land sharks" who 
are willing to befriend an intended victim to a cer 
tain extent, but who are ready at the first approach 
of an unforseen disaster to gobble up his lands. 

In this instance, Taylor attached my interest in 
the Hildebrand homestead, and while the country 
was in the ebullition of civil war, had it sold at 
public vendue, bidding it in himself for a mere 
nominal sum. 

For this little piece of ingenuity I now determined 
to award him with a clear title to another small 


tract of land, four feet by six, to have and to hold, 
as his own individual possession, until Gabriel 
should blow his horn. 

With this intention, on the 28th day of April, 1865, 
I started with four men for another raid into Mis 
souri. We made our way quietly and cautiously 
through the southern counties of Missouri, all of 
which were now held by Federal soldiers, for the 
protection of the citizens the protect ion, however, 
being the same kind that the vulture gave the lamb. 

Reaching Big river late in the night, we repaired 
to the Pike Run hills and slept until morning. 
Knowing that we would be more apt to catch Tay 
lor in daytime, we started in the morning and rode 
over to Taylor s store, which was distant only about 
six miles. He was not at home, and having no time 
to lose, we went into his store and commenced se 
lecting such goods as we wanted, when we were 
suddenly run on to by some Federal soldiers, under 
Lieut. Brown, from Perry county, but who was at 
that time stationed at Big River Mills, with forty 
men, one-half of whom he had with him on the 
present occasion. 

They came up within two hundred yards of the 
store, and commenced firing and yelling at a terri 
ble rate. We ran out to our horses, which were 
tied to the brush not more than forty yards off, but 
on the opposite side from the soldiers. One of my 
men was killed by an accidental shot, and another 
one who happened to be a new recruit left his horse 
and ran off through the woods, leaving me with an 


army of only two men, besides myself, to repel the 
attack of twenty regulars. The Federals, however, 
after their first fire, took refuge behind some old 
houses about one hundred and fifty yards off, and 
from there showed us a very harmless and cowardly 
fight. After I gained my horse, I used him for a 
fortification and shot several rounds at them ; occa 
sionally I could see one s head bob around a corner, 
but they were out of range, and my shots fell harm 
less to the ground. My other two men now left me 
alone, and for several minutes I remained, trying to 
get a dead shot at one of the Federals ; but having 
no chance to do so, without charging them by myself, 
I mounted my horse and retreated, leaving my dead 
man upon the ground, whom they charged and shot 
several times after I left. I went on to an adjoining 
hill, but failing to find my men, I rattled my cow 
bell, which I had with me for emergencies of this 
kind, and in half an hour my three men were with 

Having made a complete failure, it is not unreas 
onable to suppose that we felt very much chagrined 
at our ill luck, and knowing that if we started south 
then, we would be annoyed by Federals on our trail, 
we repaired again to the Pike Run hills for safety, 
where we could easily have whipped all the forces 
within the three surrounding counties. My com 
rade who was on foot went about four miles to the 
house of an old acquaintance and obtained ahorse, 
by promising to return him again in six weeks; 


which promise, I will here state, he afterwards faith 
fully performed. 

It was now about the middle of May, and we were 
anxious to be on our way back ; so we started one 
night and went as far as Flat Woods. 

Before Mcllvaine and the soldiers had driven me 
from there, I became acquainted with two men, 
George Miller and Joseph Johnson, who professed 
great friendship for me ; but some time after my 
expulsion from that neighborhood, they visited my 
house and used abusive language to my wife, making 
threats what they intended to do with me. Johnson 
had the impudence to remark that he intended to 
kill me and bring my head to her swinging to the 
horn of his saddle. 

These were not vain threats, for they watched for 
me for a long time ; but after they learned a little 
more about me, they were very shy, and up to the 
present time I had never got my eyes upon either 
of them. 

Late in the evening, on the next day after our 
arrival in the neighborhood, as I was passing a 
house I saw a lady dressing some butter, and wish 
ing for a good drink of buttermilk, I alighted a mo 
ment and went in the house. As I was dressed in 
Federal uniform, the good woman asked me if I 
was hunting for Sam Hildebrand ; on telling her 
that I was, she went on to give me the particulars 
of our affray at Taylor s store, ascribing to the Fed 
eral arms the most brilliant victory, by statins: that 
Lieut. Brown, with only twenty men, ran upon 


Hildehrand s Bushwhackers and completely routed 
them, killing fourteen and wounding several more ; 
a great many soldiers are now after him, and have 
him surrounded in a place where he can never 
get back here to bother us again ! " I asked her if 
she would please give Sam Hildebrand a drink of 
buttermilk ? She looked at me a moment and then 
replied: "Yes, sir; you can have all in the churn if 
you want it." 

Not long after leaving there, I found Mr. Miller 
in his field, and shot him. After night I found Mr. 
Johnson at home, took him out of the house, and 
cut off his head with my bowie knife. 

The reader will perceive that the threats of John 
son would have been completely reversed if I had 
carried his head to his wife swinging to the horn of 
my saddle ; but instead of imitating his designs any 
further, I leisurely pursued my way home to our 
headquarters in Green county, Arkansas. 

On the next day after my arrival at home, Capt. 
Bolin called on me and stated that he wished us all 
to meet him at headquarters that evening at three 
o clock. At the time appointed I was there, and so 
were about forty more of the boys, most of whom 
had just returned from their various scouts. 

The Captain seemed a little agitated, and for sev 
eral minutes after we were all assembled he did not 
say a word. Presently he began, and these are 
about his words: 

"GENTLEMEN; It is my wish that we remain 


quietly at headquarters a few days until my other 
scouting parties return. 

"I wish to say to you now that, in my opinion? 
this war has virtually closed. General Lee, the 
great head and front of all our hopes, as you are 
already aware, was compelled to succumb to supe 
rior numbers, and surrender on the 12th day of 
April. General Johnston surrendered on the 18th 
of the same month. The hopes held out by General 
Kirby Smith in his general order issued at Shreve- 
port can never be realized. 

"The Southern Confederacy is at an end; our 
course must be governed by circumstances over 
which we have no control. 

"The course we have pursued during the struggle 
is only justified by the fact that a great war existed. 
While the eyes of the world have been riveted on 
great actors and on events of an astounding mag 
nitude, the minor details of the struggle have been 
overlooked. That condition of affairs now no longer 
exists; the war has ceased, and our operations must 
cease also. 

"Finally, it is my request that each and every 
one of you submit manfully to the same terms that 
have been forced upon our great chieftains ; that is: 
Lay down your arms, surrender on parole, and re 
turn to the pursuits of peace." 

This little speech fell like a wet blanket on most 
of the men, and I must confess that I was one of 
jthat number; but we held Capt, Bolin in such high 


esteem that not a murmur of dissent was suffered 
to drop from the lips of any of his men. 

On the next day, however, the matter was fully 
discussed in every camp. Nine-tenths of the men 
fully indorsed the statements made by our noble 
captain, and I could not but acknowledge that his 
reasoning seemed plausible ; yet I was annoyed be 
yond all measure by the reflection that the war had 
suddenly ceased before I was done fighting. 

I cared not so much about the general result. I 
knew but little, and cared still less, about the great 
political problem that the war was supposed to 
have solved, nor to the technical question discussed 
by old fossil statesmen, whether the States formed 
the Union or the Union formed the States, whether 
the South had inherent rights or whether inherent 
rights had the South, whether the General Govern 
ment was a restricted agent of the people, or 
whether the people were the restricted agents of 
the General Government. 

These questions probably originated with the 
antediluvians, and they ought to have been left to 
a committee of twelve Egyptian mummies, with the 
" man in the moon " foi chairman. 

The practical question with me was, whether all 
the scoundrels in the nation were yet killed off or 
not. As far as my knowledge extended, the war 
had only gobbled up about one-tenth of them. 

Most of those men who had composed the Vigil 
ance mob on Big river were yet alive. They were 
in the centre of military camps, crawling around 


the feet of Federal officers, and whining for protec 
tion against my vengeance. 

To reach them it would be necessary to overthrow 
the Federal power ; just that far my heart was in 
the National war. 

My mind was troubled by the reflection that as 
soon as the war should be ended, all those cowardly 
miscreants would crawl out from their hiding places, 
boast of their loyalty, make a grand rush for office, 
swing their hats, and cry out : " Well, didn t we whip 

I made up my mind that, for my part, I would 
take as many of the boys as were determined never 
to surrender, escape to Texas if possible, fight under 
Gen. Kirby Smith until he should surrender, and 
then make our way into Mexico there to annoy 
the Federal Government all I could until I could 
get another " whack " at my old enemies. 

I thought, however, that I would consult my wife 
for once, and see what she thought about it. She 
looked serious for a minute, and then burst out into 
a laugh. 

"I once heard about some little boys," said she, 
u who were left at home by their parents, who had 
gone to church. One of them discovered a rat 
which had taken refuge under a pile of lumber in 
the yard ; but the boys tore away the lumber, split 
ting about half the boards. The rat then ran under 
the ash-hopper, and when that was torn down it 
took refuge under the barn floor. One of the boys 
ran to the house for matches, in order to burn out 


the rat ; but his little sister, the youngest one in the 
crowd, cried out: If you burn the rat we will have 
no barn ! The boys saw the force of her reasoning, 
and made peace with the rat. So I would advise 
you to make no further efforts toward destroying 
the Federal barn for such a purpose." 

I must confess that this little speech from my wife, 
given in such good humor, contained a little more 
good sense than anything I had heard for a long 

It sounded a little like a Union speech, and 
seemed strange on that account; but, although I 
had not at first the least idea of ever swerving from 
my purpose, yet I now determined to follow her ad 
vice, for I concluded that as she had waded through 
the hardships of war with a devotion to me that has 
but few parallels in the history of mankind, I ought 
to respect her comfort as well as my own. 

On the next day I told Capt. Bolin that I con 
sented to his arrangement. He started on to Jack- 
sonport to give in the list of his men, and I started 
a few days afterwards to the same place, and re 
ceived my parole on the 26th day of May, 1865, the 
very day on which General Kirby Smith surrendered 
at Shreveport. 

The war now being over, I tried to banish the sub 
ject from my mind as much as possible, and soon 
went to work on the place I still occupied, for no 
owner had yet returned to claim it. Most of our 
men were afraid to return to their homes in Mis 
souri while a remembrance of our depredations 


were still fresh in the minds of the people, and 
went to farming in different parts of Green county. 

With what I captured during the war I did not 
have more than half as much property as I had lost 
by the hands of the Vigilance mob in Missouri. 

One might suppose that, from the name my ene 
mies gave me, I might have grown rich by my dep 
redations during the war; but such was not the 
fact; plunder was only a secondary consideration 
with me ; I resorted to it merely to sustain myself 
while I pursued my main leading object that of 
killing my enemies. 

We sustained ourselves during the whole war off 
of our enemies. If objections are made to that 
kind of warfare, I can point to the exaniple of Sher 
man, in Georgia, and to a host of other Federal 
commanders, both great and small, even down to 
that pigmy lump of insignificance the Big Kiver 
Militia. But, unlike those illustrious examples, we 
did not charge our government with anything we 
captured ; neither was I a burden to the Confeder 
acy to the amount of one dollar ; neither did I ever 
stoop so low as to become an incendiary, and burn 
out my enemies. I left that for the Indians to do, 
and for those who saw proper to imitate them. 

So, at the close of the war, and in fact during its 
whole continuance, I was poor, and my family were 
in straitened circumstances; but I went to work 
and raised a good crop of corn and everything else 
that we needed. In the spring of 1866 I rented an 
other place in a better locality, and farmed on a 


larger scale. This I also did on the year following, 
and at the close of 1867 I had succeeded in render 
ing myself and family as comfortable as could be 

The negro boy I had taken from Free Jim, in St. 
Francois county, still remained with me ; he was 
free, I suppose, but he seemed to prefer good living 
and light work to "free starvation." 



Imprisoned in Jacksonport jail. Mrs. Kildebrand returns to 
M:-:-OT:ri. Escape from prison. Final settlement in Ste. 
Gene ieve county. St. Louis detectives make their first 
trip The Governor s reward. Wounded by Peterson. Re 
moved to his uncle s. Fight at John Williams . Kills James 
McLrine. Hides in a cave. 

Ear\v in the spring of 1868 I put in a good crop of 
corn, and do voted much of my time to gardening; 
my r>rosr>ect looked flattering indeed; and I fancied 
that I vv-as getting along as well as any of rny neigh 
bors, and better than most of them. My negro man 
worked cheerfully, and I put in much of my time in 
u overseeing." I claim that I was the last slave 
holder in the United States. 

,\ circumstance now took place that destroyed 
mv future prospect, and cast a shadow over the 
happiness of my family. It is a circumstance that 
I deeply deplore, and one, too, that I cou-d easily 
have avoided, at the expense, perhaps, of losing one 

Early in the month of April one of my old war 
associates, with whom I had passed many a hardship, 
came to my house and stated that he had received 
bad news from home; that his sister had been de 
serted by her husband without any cause, and that 
the fellow had taken up with a negro woman, and 
was living with her not more than ten miles off. 


He requested that I should aid him in taKjng the 
couple out and giving them a good flogging. 

The matter was talked over, and one of us might 
have made the remark that they deserved to be tied 
together. This conversation was heard by the wife 
of my friend; two or three days after which the 
guilty pair were taken from a mill pond, drowned, 
and still tied together. After the first excitement 
was over, nothing more was heard about the matter 
for nearly six weeks. My friend s wife told all about 
the conversation, and suspicion rested upon us. 

Finally Major Surge, with three men, arrested us, 
and took us before the authorities ; the preliminary 
examination was had, and we were both lodged in 
the jail at Jacksonport. 

We were secured by handcuffs and by ball and 
chain. In this condition it soon became apparent 
to us that our escape was impossible. Negroes fre 
quently passed our prison, and told us that we 
would be hung by a mob. 

We were loaded with chains, and so strongly 
guarded that I began to doubt the ability of our 
friends to release us, even if they should attempt it; 
in fact I began very strongly to doubt the proba 
bility of their ever coming at all. 

In June, my brother William, who had served 
during the war in the Union army, came down to 
Arkansas, where my family was, for the purpose of 
taking them back to Big river, in Missouri; for t=ie 
probabilities were that my wife would soon be left 
a widow. She sold the crop as it stood on the 


ground for what she could get, and hired a teamster 
to haul the family to Big river. 

She made the trip in safety; arriving at the old 
homestead, she lived with my mother and brother 
William. My prison life every day became more 
intolerable, I had been in jail for four months, and 
had almost abandoned all hopes of being released. 

On the last day of August, as I lay brooding over 
my helpless condition, some one, about dark, whis 
pered in through the grates, telling me to be of 
good cheer, for that on the following night his 
friends were going to make an attempt to release 

Fortunately for us, as our friends lay in wait on 
the next night, a boat landed at the wharf, which 
attracted the attention of all those who were yet 
up, and we were let out without any disturbance 

I was so overjoyed at the idea of being free once 
more, that I leaped off the platform in the dark and 
sprained my ankle. I was in a bad fix for traveling, 
but we were soon out of danger. I rode until daylight; 
then we all scattered, and each one took his own 
course. I hobbled on in this way, living on nothing 
but May-apples until I made about thirty-five miles, 
to the house of an old friend, where I remained 
until I recruited up, and then I started to where my 
family was, in Missouri. I found them at my 
mother s residence, on Big river; but after remain 
ing a few weeks, finding that my presence was any 
thing but pleasing to my old enemies i removed to 


Illinois and settled on the Mississippi, about forty 
miles below St. Louis. Here I went to chopping 
cord wood for a livelihood, not intending to molest 
any one, as the war was over, and fully determined 
to withhold my hand from the commission of any 
act that would indicate anything else than that I 
was a peaceable and law-abiding citizen. 

In January, 1869, 1 moved across the river on to 
the Missouri side, at a place called Rush Tower, and 
continued cutting wood until the first of April, at 
which time I rented a small farm of Samuel B. Her- 
rod, on the Three Rivers, in Ste. Genevieve county, 
near the county line of St. Francois, and about four 
miles from Big River Mills. To this place I moved 
my family. My oldest boy was twelve, years old, 
and on him devolved most of the labor on the farm. 

My arrival seemed to create a panic among those 
who had robbed me, killed my brothers, and perse 
cuted my family. They still had a fear of retribu 
tive justice> and though I had no such designs, they 
secretly went to work to effect my destruction. 

Joe McGahan, as I am informed, took several 
trips to influence the Governor of Missouri to crush 
me out of existence. Gov. McClurg instructed Col. 
Myers, Police Commissioner of St. Louis, to send 
out men for my arrest. In May, 1869, he sent Mc 
Queen and Col. Bowen, who were met at Irondale 
by Joe McGahan, to pilot them to the scene of 
operations. On going about ten miles, however, 
daylight overtook them, and McGahan, after inform 
ing them that to be seen there in daylight would be 


death to him, went on home and never returned. 
At the approach of night the detectives were 
obliged to proceed without a guide, on foot, and in a 
strange neighborhood. After wandering around all 
night, wading Big river at a deep ford, they were 
obliged to pass another day in the woods. AM they 
could not find my house without some further infor 
mation, one of them, disguised as a rude country 
man in search of employment, got all the informa 
tion he wanted. It appears that those two detectives 
watched around my house for eight days and nights. 
Their provisions then gave out, and not being able 
to get any from my enemies, they started back to 
Irondale at ten o clock at night, arid from there took 
the cars for St. Louis. While this was going on I 
was working at the mouth of Isle Bois on the Missis 

It appears that some time during the war Gover 
nor Fletcher had offered a reward of three hundred 
dollars for my capture. 

This and other rewards which were offered 
was the price of blood an inducement held out for 
assassination ! Men can be found, who, for a cer 
tain reward, will shoot any man down whom a Gov 
ernor may designate. 

Thank God, I have never come to that yet! I 
have killed many men, but it has always been either 
in self-defense, or for the purpose of redressing some 
terrible wrong. 

Some persons wrote to Governor McClurg to as 
certain whether the reward was still valid; on 


being answered in the affirmative, they determined, 
even for that paltry sum, to attempt my assassin 
ation. James McLaine, as he afterwards boasted, 
prowled around my house for one whole month for 
that purpose. 

On the night of June 6th, 1869, I ventured up to 
my house at a late hour to see my family, and re 
mained with them all night. In the morning I 
stepped out into the yard, when I heard the report 
of a gun from a cluster of hazel brush about eighty 
yards off. I went into the house for my gun, and 
discovered that I had been shot through the fleshy 
part of my thigh. 

On going out I could discover no one, the person 
having left as soon as he fired, so 1 went into Mr. 
Pratt s stable, a short distance off. Presently Mc 
Laine passed by with his gun ; after going up to my 
house, he came back and passed along the road not 
far from the stable. Believing him to be the assas 
sin, I would have shot him, but was prevented by 
Mr. Pratt. 

I was hauled to the house of William M. Highley, 
who went after a physician to have my wound 
Sressed. The wound proved to be a very serious 
one, and disabled me for a long time in such a man 
ner that I was unable to walk. I was next hauled 
to Samuel Gossom s, and then to the residence of 
my uncle, John Williams. As this became the scene 
of a furious battle a few days afterwards, I shall be 
a little minute in my description. My uncle s fam 
ily consisted of himself, Aunt Mary and a grand- 


daughter about six years of age. His house is 
among the hills in the western part of St. Francois 
county, five miles from Big River Mills, and one 
mile due south from the stone house formerly occu 
pied by Dick Berryman. My uncle s premises con- 
jsisted of one log house, one story high, and contain- 
ing but one room. In the yard, west of the house 
stood an old dilapidated cabin with the chimney 
torn down, near which stood the smoke-house and a 
cluster of young cherry trees. Opposite the south 
end of the house, at a distance of about eighty 
yards, was the spring house. 

I suffered much from my wound ; and as my well 
known crippled condition emboldened parties after 
wards to attempt my arrest, under the assumption 
that I was just about dead, I attribute all my suf 
ferings and privations during the three months that 
followed to that attempted assassination. For many 
months afterwards I believed that it was James 
McLaine who did the deed, but I will here state 
that the man who shot me, as I am informed, was 
Cyrus A. Peterson, from Fredericktown, and that 
Walter E. Evans was along with him. 

Neither of those two men did I ever harm ; Petei 
son I did not know, and Evans I had met a few 
weeks before, and shook hands with him. 

The Evans family resided on Big river, and we 
were raised up within a few miles of each other. 
The widow and her daughter remained at home in per 
fect safety during the whole war, although the family 
was known to be Union (with one or two exceptions), 


and two of her boys, Ellis G. and William C Ev 
were known to be two of the most urn-oni} mm 
Unionists in the State. I heard Di k Bern man 
once tell his men, after calling them all up in a line, 
that he would not suffer them to interfere with the 
widow Evans, or with any property that she pos 
sessed. This order I sanctioned, and governed my 
self accordingly. 

While I still lay at my uncle s, confined to my bed, 
Sheriff Breckinridge and a party of about six men 
concluded that they would secure the reward offered 
by the Governor without any personal danger, as it 
it was thought by some that I had died of my wounds. 

During the night he went with his party to Mr. 
Highley s, and*got near the house by keeping be 
hind a gate-post. Mr. Highley was called out, and 
when he assured them that I was not there they 
made a valiant charge upon the h , and entered 
it just as Mrs. Highley was endeavoring to put on 
her dress. The gallant Breckinridge thrust his -gun 
against her dress and threw it to the other side of 
the room, denoting thereby that cowardice and ruf 
fianism are blended together. From here they went 
on the balance of the night in search of "Sam Hil- 
debrand " and they found him ! 

They reached Uncle William s about daylight. 
Finding him at the crib they made a breastwork of 
him, by making the old man walk in front, while 
they marched on behind with their guns presented. 
I fastened the front door and refused to open it 
The back door, however, was only latched, and a 


child could have opened it. I pulled a little rag 
out of a crack near the jamb, and as they attempted 
to pass I fired four shots at them before they fired 
at all ; one tumbled up behind the ash-hopper, and 
the others dashed back around the corner to the 
front side of the house. They fired several shots 
through the door, which struck the wall at the back 
of the house a few inches over the bed where the 
little girl lay. She raised a terrible yell ; Aunt 
Mary ran to her, supposing that she had been shot. 
" Come away with her," said I, " and both of you 
stand in yon corner ; break her a piece of pie to 
stop her crying, so that I can hear what is going 
on." I got two more shots through the crack near 
the chimney, one of which was at Noah Williams; 
he got in the chimney corner, and was hunting for 
a crack, but I found it first, and sent a shot after 
him that raked across his breast, and tore his 
clothes in such a manner that he left in disgust. 
They kept firing through the door ; the beds were 
literally riddled ; aunt got a shot on her chin ; a 
whole volley was now fired through the door ; one 
little shot struck her on the head, and five holes 
were shot through her dress. 

They now marched the old man in front of them to 
the door; he stood with his right hand against the 
door-facing, and cried out : * Sam, open the door or 
they will kill me!" 

"Hold on, Uncle," I replied, "and step out of the 

Just then I opened the door, and crossing my 


arms I fired to the right and Left with my pistols. 
Uncle s hand being in the way, I could only shoot 
Breckinridge through the groin, and another man 
through the shoulder. 

Andy Bean broke to run, and jumped the fence 
by a walnut tree just as a shot passed through his 
fiery red whiskers, grazing his face sufficiently to 
saturate them, and to make him believe that they 
were one huge stream of blood. The whole party 
now broke, and on leaping the fence fired off their 
guns, some of their shots piercing the door, one 
passed through my uncle s wrist, some struck the 
house, and some missed creation. 

The man wounded in the shoulder was taken to 
the spring to have water poured on his wound, 
Breckinridge to Frank Simms to have his life writ 
ten, and Andy Bean to Irondale to have the arteries 
of his whiskers taken up. Aunt Mary now brought 
me a bucket of water and left, after telling me that 
there were provisions enough in the house to last a 

Telegraphic dispatches were sent to St. Louis, 
Potosi and Farmington for more men. James Mc- 
Laine and Dennis O Leary came from Farmington, 
and Captain Todd Hunter with eight or ten men 
came from Potosi and Irondale, and, from a hill two 
hundred yards off, kept up an occasional fire at the 
house during the balance of the day. The party 
behind the spring house were compelled to remain 
there on account of my shots; they, however, kept 
up a random fire, to show to their anxious compan- 


ions that they were not yet dead. They once held 
a hat around the corner of the spring house, and 
instantly got a hole shot through it. 

While the firing still continued, I tried my hand 
at cooking my dinner. After eating a hearty meal 
and resting myself a little, I went on duty again. 

About sunset McLaine climbed upon the old 
cabin near the house, but as there were three walls 
between us, the cracks did not range right for me to 
shoot him. After he had kindled a fire on the roof 
he came down and stood near the door on the far 
side of the cabin. I got a glimpse of his body, and 
by a lucky chance I shot him dead. 

This created such an excitement that, as they 
crowded around his body, which they carried a short 
distance, I opened the back door, and unperceived 
by any of them, crawled out through the weeds and 
through the fence. Here I had to leave my gun, as 
I could not carry it, for I could not walk a step on 
account of my wounded leg. I crawled through the 
woods about two miles, for darkness now favored 
my escape, and arriving at the house of a friend, I 
obtained a horse and rode to my sister s (Mrs. 
Adams), living near the old homestead of the Hilde- 
brand family. 

It was necessary that I should keep in a cool 
place on account of my wound, so I went into my 
cave in the Big river bluff, half a mile north from 
the residence of G. W. Murphy, and near the Pike 
Run hills, where I remained some time, my provis 
ions being brought to me every day by my sister. 


My wife and children still remained on the Herrod 
place, where they were watched so closely that 
they could not come to my assistance 



Military operations for his capture. Col. Bowen captures the 
Cave. Progress of the campaign. Advent of Gov. McClurg. 
The militia called out. Don Quixote affair at the Brick 
Church. The campaign ended. Mrs Hildebrand escapes to 
Illinois. "Sam" leaves Missouri. His final proclamation. 

My narrative would not be complete without a 
history of the military operations carried on .by au 
thority of the State government for my capture or 
destruction ; yet I must depend almost exclusively 
upon what my friends told me from time to time as 
those events were transpiring. 

A few days after the fight at Williams , a detective 
with a dirty face and hair uncombed; riding an old 
mule, with a pack saddle and blind bridle, went to 
Big River Mills, and inquired of Dr. Keith and 
Samuel B. Herrod where " Sam Hildebrand " was, 
as he was an old "war chum " whom he wanted to 
assist. His ragged coat and old hat condemned him 
at once as a detective, for we were in the habit of 
dressing well during the war, as our credit was al 
ways good while we were well armed. He failed to 
elicit any information from them ; in fact at this 
time I was nursing my wounds in the cave, and the 
dismal scene of my suffering was only visited by 
that angel of mercy, a kind sister. 

It appears that the Police Commissioner of St. 


Louis sent Col. Bowen, McQueen, Schuster and 
Wadkins on a second expedition against me. They 
were joined at Irondale by Hughes, King, Fatchet 
and Zoleman ; and on Big river by Joe McGahan 
and Dennis O Leary. 

Col. Bowen, with his men, went to the house of 
my sister on the 21st day of June, just before day 
light, and questioned her about where I was. My 
sister of course refused to answer any of their ques 
tions, but on threatening to hang two of her young 
est boys, one of them divulged all that he knew. 

On the evening of the 22d the party arrested 
William Harris, my brother-in-law, also Mr. Cash 
and Mr. Dunham, and hung them up by the neck 
until they extorted from them the fact that I lived 
in a cave in a certain bluff which they described. 
This bluff rises perpendicularly nearly three hun 
dred feet above the waters of Big river, which runs 
at its base. A skirt of high timber on the margin 
of the river in a great measure hides the bold front 
of this towering mass of rock from view. 

The cave can be seen neither from the top nor 
bottom, for it is about two hundred feet from the 
bottom, and is hid by a projecting rock in front. 
From the cave in one direction along the seam in 
the rock there is a narrow and very difficult cause 
way running several hundred yards where it can be 
approached from above and below. This narrow 
turnpike can easily be defended by one man against 
five hundred. I regret that I was not in my castle 
when Col. Bowen and his posse were prowling 


around in front of the cave on the morning of the 
23d, I would have had more fun than I did at Wil 
liams house, where they had so much the advantage 
of me, 

I retired from the cave during the night, and was 
absent when the party came to see my castle. They 
remained near the cave all day, but did not think it 
prudent to peep in to see whether I was at home or 
not. On the following night they built a large fire 
on the projection in front of the cavern, and kept it 
supplied with wood which they threw from the top 
of the bluff. 

On the next morning they learned from Mr. Nash, 
whom they hung by the neck awhile, that I was nob 
in the cave. 

On receiving this welcome information the party 
scaled the bluff and took the whole place by storm. 
The next move to capture me was through a confes 
sion made by a son of Mr. Nash, that he was to 
meet me at a certain point at night with a quart of 

Col. Bowen determined to capture me and the 
"quart" so he and his party reconnoitered the place 
for several hours, but I kept two hundreds yards from 
them. They were welcome to the whisky, for I con 
sidered it my treat; and after taking a hearty drink 
from the branch I went away perfectly satisfied. 

After the capture of my cave. Col. Bowen made 
his headquarters at G. W. Murphy s. There of course 
he lived well ; the boys were all happy, drawing 
good wages and incurring no danger, for I solemnly 


promised my friends that I would not kill a single 
one of them unless they should indeed discover me. 
The first time I saw Col. Bowen after his removal to 
Murphy s was three or four days after he had cap 
tured the bluff. I was aiming to cross the road two 
or three hundred yards east of Murphy s house, 
when on- getting in a small glade fifteen steps from 
the road I heard horses feet coming from the direc 
tion of Big River Mills. I stood behind a cedar 
bush with a cocked pistol in each hand. Col. Bowen 
rode by me with two of his men, but none of them 
turned their heads, and I moved around the bush as 
they passod. 

I did not wish to hurt them ; I had a high regard 
for the Colonel, and respected him for his magnan 
imity in not burning my cave after he had captured 
it, for I mtisf say that he was the first man who ever 
drove me out of a place without setting it on fire. 

A few days after this I concluded to hobble over 
to where my family was, for the purpose of paying 
them a short visit ; but on passing through a wheat 
field I was discovered by a certain man who re 
ported me. Col. Bowen took a squad of men to 
watch around my house at night. Before arriving 
there it was dark and raining; and as I heard the 
tramp of their horses I stepped out of the road un 
til they had passed. I followed them on until they 
got near the house and commenced placing out their 

After the campaign had continued several weeks, 
it became apparent that the forces already in the 


field were insufficient for my capture ; the disloyalty 
of the people of St. Francois county had been greatly 
magnified. Certain evil men in the neighborhood 
desired nothing so much as a pretext for martial 
law ; some of them had rioted in murder and pillage 
during the war, and they knew that in all civil com 
motions the dregs arise to the top. 

Governor McClurg is a good man ; I can say that 
much for him, but in the goodness of his nature he 
is slow in detecting the evil designs of some of 
his party friends who live in the under current 
of cunning rascality. To show the tardiness and 
disloyalty of the civil authorities in St. Francois 
county, Sheriff Murphy was ordered, just as the 
farmers had whetted their scythes and were prepar 
ing to enter their harvest fields, to call out the 
militia throughout the county to aid in scouring the 
woods. To the mortification of the plotters, he re 
sponded and the people turned out. 

Then the report was started that I was concealed 
in a deep mineral shaft among the Pike Kun Hills. 
Murphy and his party scrambled over that terribLe 
country until every snake was crushed by their 

This severe ordeal continued for two or three 
weeks until fortunately the Governor made his ad 
vent on Big river, and was welcomely received by 
all parties. To my regret I was out of the ring ; 
however, I was anxious to see Governor McClurg, 
for I had never yet seen a Governor; and having 
been informed by my friends that he would make a 


speech in Farmington on the following day, I posted 
myself in the corner of a fence at the end of a lane 
on the Green place about five miles from Farming- 
ton and watched for him to come along, knowing 
that he would pass on that road. 

I did not intend to molest him, or even to speak 
an unkind word; but I was anxious that he might 
be alone so that I could step out, shake him by the 
hand, give him a drink out of my bottle, and have a 
social chat. 

When he passed me he was riding by the side of 
a Methodist preacher from Caledonia, named Wil 
liams ; he was followed by a train of about forty 
men, the saints being in front and the sinners in the 
rear. Not liking the rear-guard very well, I did not 
join in the procession, but retired further back in 
the woods. 

Under the impression that the Governor would 
deliver a speech at the court house that night, I con 
cluded that I would go and hear what he had to say 
about me. After dark I made my way to town and 
%creted myself opposite the court house door 
among some goods boxes near Fleming s store. 

I saw no indications, however, of a public meet 
ing; I made a motion to adjourn, which was sec 
onded by a large woolly dog that found me occupy 
ing his sleeping apartment. 

I ascertained afterwards that McClurg did make a 
speech during the day, and that it was anything but 
flattering to me. To avoid the necessity of a resort 
to martial law, the citizens were verv clamorous in 


their protestations of holy horror at the very name 
of Hildebrand. They passed a long string of reso 
lutions; the first declaring that "Sain Hilderbrand 
ought to be arrested;" the second that "it would be 
proper to arrest Sam Hilderbrand;" the third "that 
to arrest Sam Hilderbrand would be a good idea ;" 
the other sixteen resolutions not differing materially 
from the first three, I need not repeat. 

The resolutions being read to me a few days after 
wards, I fully sanctioned them, and cruised around 
several days myself, in search of deperadoes. 

Governor McClurg appointed six deputy sheriffs 
for St. Francois county; their number was after 
wards increased to ten, each one of whom were al 
lowed a posse of ten men, by which arrangement one 
hundred men would be in active service. 

In order to create the impression that he was per 
forming some prodigious deeds of valor, Col. Bowen 
pretended to have fought a terrible battle single 
handed with "Sam Hildebrand and his men" at the 
Brick Church on Big river. 

I have heard the battle at the Brick Church fr^ 
quently mentioned, and I have a word to say in re 
gard to that matter. I was not there myself, neither 
was any of my friends at the time the firing took 

The whole tragedy was concocted by the cunning 
of Col. Bowen himself, in order to cut a figure and 
stamp himself a hero. 

I could easily have killed him at any ime prev 
ious to this, but as he had done me no harm, and was 


not likely to do any, I took the advice of my friends 
and let him peaceably pursue his brilliant cam 
paigns for the sake of eclipsing the renown of Don 

It seems that two of his men had stationed them 
selves in the brush near the Brick Church by the 
road leading from his headquarters at G. W. Mur 
phy s to Big Kiver Mills. On a certain evening be 
tween sunset and dark, when Sheriff Murphy and 
himself were riding by the church on their way 
from Big River Mills, those two men in ambush fired 
off their guns. The valiant Colonel drew out his 
pistol and commenced firing; but to prevent the 
sheriff from taking a pop at the two men, he cried 
out to him to dash on to Big River Mills for more 
men, which he did and soon returned. 

The Colonel remained on the ground and was 
master of the field, but his horse was slightly 
wounded by a shot nearly perpendicular, which 
might have been made by himself. The horse, how 
ever, not understanding the matter thoroughly, 
threw his master high in the air; but luckily the 
Colonel came down head foremost, and striking on a 
rock he received no injury except a ringing in his 
head like the rattling of a cow-bell. 

He dispatched one of his men to Irondale to tele 
graph to the authorities at St. Louis the astounding 
intelligence that at the Brick Church, Col. Bowen 
had encountered the irrepressible "Sam Hildebrand" 
and his band of out-laws ; that his horse had been 
shot from under him, but that single-handed he had 


driven the enemy from the field, and only received 
a slight wound. This Don Quixote campaign against 
me terminated in a spree, and the Colonel returned 
to St. Louis. 

Previous to this, however, by Col. Bowen s orders, 
my wife and children were removed, first to Iron- 
dale and then to Farmington ; they remained at the 
latter place under the supervision of the sheriff for 
a month. They were kindly treated, but my wife 
was anxious to escape from the ceaseless annoyance 
of Bowen s military operations. 

On a certain night a friend of mine from Illinois, 
named Crittenden, proceeded into Farmington with 
a light wagon, and before the break of day my wife 
and family were in -Ste. Genevieve county, on their 
way to Illinois. They stopped for breakfast at a 
house by the roadside, and by a strange coincidence 
it proved to be the house of the late James Mc- 
Laine. The widow, not knowing the party, made 
them very welcome, and in apologizing for her 
straitened circumstances, observed: U I am now left 
a destitute widow, and all these poor little children 
of mine are left orphans, by the hand of Sam Hilde- 

Mrs. McLaine s father, George Shumate was pres 
ent, and while the good woman was preparing 
breakfast, he addressed himself to Crittenden, and 
gave a terrible account of my desperate deeds. 

After breakfast the party arose to continue their 
journey; the widow would have nothing for her 


trouble. My wife, taking Mrs. McLaine kindly by 
the hand, said : 

" Mrs. McLaine, I am sorry for you truly sorry 
for you and your dear little children ; sorry for the 
many hardships you have had to encounter. I 
know how to sympathize with you, for I am a widow 

44 You a widow?" 

" Yes, Mrs. McLaine ; I am worse than a widow 
I am the wife of Sam Hildebrand ! " 

The good woman stood amazed and said nothing; 
but the look that Mr. Shumate gave Crittenden was 
truly comical : he drew up his neck, threw his head 
a little back, and exclaimed : 

-" Well my God ! and you are not Sam Hilde 
brand are you ? " 

"Oh, no sir! I am not; but his wife here is my 

They continued on to Illinois, and as soon as all 
military operations against me in Missouri had sub 
sided, I left the State; and since that time I have 
been wandering through the Southern States as a 
peaceable citizen. 

The Governor s reward against me, of course, is 
still unrepealed ; and I hope that it will be chiseled 
into one of the pillars of the State Capitol, that it 
may be handed down to posterity in the same cate 
gory with two rewards offered during the last gene 
ration one for a feasible northwest passage, and 
the other for the invention of perpetual motion. 

Let the legend pass down the corridors of time to 


the latest generation, that the strange flickering 
light sometimes seen at night in the dreary low 
lands of the South is none other than " Jack with 
his lantern" trying to get the reward by finding 
Sam Hildebrand. 

If the strange hallucination should ever enter the 
mind of a man that I could be captured, let him 
immediately send for a physician, have his head 
emptied and filled up with clabber to give him a 
better set of brains. 

All fighting between "Uncle Sam" and myself 
has ceased long ago. He came out of the war un- 
conquered and so did I. 

It will be a long time, however, before he gets 
entirely over the effects of our fight. I am h^le, 
and have the free use of my limbs; but his southern 
arm is paralyzed, he is terribly in debt, can only 
see out of one eye, and his constitution is broken; 
he has the KuKlux nightmare, the Salt Lake cancer; 
the African leprosy, the Fenian rickets, the bond 
holder s cramp, and the Congressional blind stag 
gers. The war left me out of debt; with a good 
horse, and forty dollars in cash. 

As several proclamations have been issued against 
me, without ever eliciting one in return, I shall now 
swing my hat and proclaim : 

" Peace and good will to all men ; a general am 
nesty toward the United States, and to Uncle Sam 
so long as the said Uncle Sam shall behave him 



This book is due on the last date stamped below, or 

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Renewed books are subject to immediate recall. 

v /b80S 



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MOV 19 1958 

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MAR 6 1970 

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General Library 

University of California